Age is not an excuse: It’s never too late to get into the best shape of your life | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

I just turned 45 two weeks ago. It felt good and I am extremely grateful and inspired to continue to age gracefully. At this point in my life, I am doing my best each day to take care of myself by getting enough sleep, avoiding stress, connecting with people, eating the right food, and moving as much as I can during the day. I aim to maximize and enjoy the next phase (or the next half) of my life by doing my best to stay at my fittest and healthiest for my unique physiological makeup.

I won’t use age as an excuse to limit myself from doing things that I used to do before, such as running, strength training and hiking. Though I can always modify my diet and my workout regimen and continue to listen to my body, I will instead match my lifestyle and activities with the natural changes that are expected to occur in my mind and body. I want to beat the negative effects of hormonal issues, mood swings, osteoporosis, and the middle age spread, aka the development of extra abdominal fat that usually results from hormonal imbalance and change in lifestyle (result of less movement and unhealthy eating).

Keep in mind that you cannot control your genetic makeup and natural aging process (gray hair, changes in vision and hearing and forgetfulness), but you can still reverse your body age and extend your lifespan.

Some people use age as an excuse to lessen their activity level and give in to cravings and pass these off as an unbeatable inevitability. These beliefs do more harm than good, in fact, I know a lot of people who got into the best shape and health of their lives even after 50. Increase your awareness about your current health status, develop a positive attitude and ask for support from others.

I just attended the Asia Fitness Conference 2022 in Bangkok, Thailand last week and learned the latest trends and the most effective wellness strategies for healthy aging. For this week, I will focus on movement.

You need to prepare your body by exercising regularly at least 10 years before menopause

Claire Norgate, a physiotherapist, yoga and Pilates teacher believes that the middle age spread and other hormonal issues can be prevented if you will exert more effort in making lifestyle changes (food, exercise, relationships, sleep and stress management) ten years before you reach menopause, which usually happens between 45 to 55 years old.

In her lecture “Female Hormone Health,” she discussed how weight control and achieving a fit body regardless of age can be achieved as long as there are no current medical issues such as thyroid, insulin resistance, polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS and hormonal issues, to delay weight loss.

Her tried and tested recommendations:

  • Eat less but consume quality foods, especially as you get older
  • Walk at least 12,500 steps a day and incorporate strength training (at least 2-3 times a week)
  • Practice mind and body workouts such as yoga and Pilates
  • Perform cardio (total of at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity and 75 minutes of vigorous intensity per week) training such as steady-state cardio (brisk walking) and high-intensity interval training (HIIT)

These exercises should be matched with an individual’s menstrual cycle to avoid injuries, burnout and excessive stress:

  • Follicular phase (A few days or a week after your period) to ovulation (usually the 14th day of the cycle): HIIT, boxing, power yoga, heavy weight training, and long runs
  • Luteal phase to menstruation: steady-state cardio, light weight training, and mind and body exercises

You just need to devote extra effort to finding that consistency and discipline in your workout routine so you can achieve your goals. Observe how your body responds to the current exercises that you do, the amount and quality of sleep that you’re getting, and the foods that you eat. Aim for balance so you can do more things while sustaining a healthy lifestyle for as long as you live.

You need to train movements, not muscles to achieve total body strength

You can do serious weightlifting if you are joining bodybuilding or powerlifting competitions. But you need to think long-term. Choose workouts that help build muscle (important in improving metabolism and weight management) and at the same time aid our day-to-day activities with intensities that can be sustained and modified as you age.

Ken Baldwin, a functional aging specialist, wellness educator, and the founder of Healthy Aging Institute discussed in his lecture “Powerful Aging: Load to Explode,” the traditional exercises for older adults are usually slow, isolated, less resistant (usually bodyweight) and lacking functional movement patterns (pushing, pulling, squatting, lunging and rotating) designed for everyday function. He puts a lot of emphasis on improving the overall fitness level of the older population (53 and above) through integrated movements and power training.

With 30 years of experience, Ken adheres to the effective principles of improving an older person’s overall strength without just focusing on the size of the muscles.

These principles are:

  • Strength endurance (maintaining strength over a period of time)
  • Absolute strength (maximum amount of force exerted to accomplish a task)
  • Tensile strength (strength of connective tissue to stretch and maintain integrity during movement)
  • Starting strength (ability to generate movement with little or no elastic contribution)
  • Positional strength (ability to generate force from a variety of postures)
  • Agile strength (ability to start, stop and change direction while controlling a load)
  • Relative strength (amount of force one can generate in relation to size)

For strength training:

  • At least twice a week of full-body movement-based strength exercises, 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions
  • More focus on the lower body (squats and lunges)
  • Standing core workouts

For cardio workouts, Ken suggests the inclusion of power training and HIIT for active adults:

  • Ballistic moves (kettlebell swings and overhead medicine ball throw)
  • Plyometric moves (quick and powerful movements such as skater hop and jump squat)
  • Use of various props such as Bosu ball, ladders, medicine ball, and cones

Fabio Comana, an award-winning international presenter, a National Academy Sports Medicine (NASM) faculty and advisory board member for Orange Theory Fitness explained in his lecture entitled “Energy Pathways and Resistance Training,” that a real HIIT workout should have shorter work intervals lasting only for 10 minutes or less (excluding recovery, warm-up, and cool-down). And the intensity of the work interval should reach between 85 to 90 percent of the maximum heart rate, interspersed by longer recovery bouts.

This is a sample short HIIT workout (shorter work than rest interval) that you can do (total workout time = 15 minutes, total rest time= 5 minutes, total workout duration = 20 minutes)

  • Warm up for 5 minutes
  • Cycle or sprint for 60 seconds (1 minute), then recover for 180 seconds (3 minutes)
  • Repeat the cycle 5 times
  • Cool down for 5 minutes

HIIT workouts are designed to improve one’s fitness and sports performance while burning calories during and even after the workout (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC). You can modify your workouts by choosing the best training type compatible with your current fitness issues, goals, and preference.

While these are all tried and tested strategies, remember to listen to your body and consult a medical professional first. Operate within your limitations and take things step by step as you work your way to getting to the best shape of your life.

Learn more about the latest wellness trends and the most effective nutrition and stress management strategies in my next article.

Email the author at or follow/message her on Instagram @mitchfelipemendoza

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