18-29 Years Old
These are your prime years, athletically speaking. Your body can attain its peak physical conditioning at this age with relative ease. You can eat at Taco Bell and not notice a thing. But don't fall in that trap. Use your youth to build a great cardiovascular and muscular base that will benefit you in your long years. If possible, try to condition your body for both cardio heavy events, like five or 10-Ks, half and full marathons. Be careful of your dietary choices, it's easy to wolf down cheeseburgers, but these are good only in moderation. Also, treat your liver and brain with respect...you'll need them later.
30-39 Years Old
Maybe the mileage is starting to catch up with us here. Maybe we fell off after college, when kids and a mortgage got to us. Now is the time to make up lost ground. You can still reach physical peaks in this time-frame, you're just going to have to work a little harder for it as your metabolism has slowed. If you don't belong to a gym, join one. Right now. Start going to Spin, Bootcamp, or another type of exercise class. It will help you get re-motivated even if you are a gym-everyday kind-of-person. Starting, picking back up, or maintaining good fitness habits at this age will not only payoff for you later, it sets the right message for your kids, too.
40-59 Years Old
You know what I said about physical peaks? Well it applies here too. You can still reach peak or near peak shape, you just have to work really hard for it. Don't believe me? Three words: Google. Randy. Couture. While we all may not be up for smashing faces, you should be exercising at least three times per week. And while golf is a great hobby and I greatly encourage you to play it because of the cardio benefit, it should not be your only workout. You may start thinking about lower impact activities...why not swim? It's heart-healthy and a great way to build lean muscle.
60s and Beyond
If you've reached this point, you're a longtime fitness pro. A friend and mentor of mine is 89 and still competing in the Pennsylvania State Senior Games and winning medals too. He'll tell you how he beats up on guys 20 years younger. I believe him. The biggest part about post-retirement is being active. Do something. Gardening, yard-work, golf, tennis, swimming, mall-walking, dance classes, whatever. The more active you are, the better your mobility will be and the longer you will be able to maintain it.
Ryan Barnhart, MS, PES, is a certified Performance Enhancement
and Injury Prevention Specialist through the National Academy of Sports
Medicine (NASM). He also holds a master's degree in exercise science, as
well as a bachelor of sport management, both from California University
of Pennsylvania. Ryan has worked with numerous collegiate and amateur
athletes across many different fields. Ryan also has had the opportunity
to work with several professional athletes. Recently he has worked with
amateur and professional athletes within the emerging sport of Mixed
Ryan is currently the director of fitness at a 700+ member gym near Pittsburgh, PA. He enjoys working with weekend warriors, athletes, and everyone in between. You can contact Ryan at email@example.com.