Stay Fit At Any Age
Image by Paul Buceta
Trouble spots don't have a shelf life. Grab a gap pal and follow Oxygen columnists Tosca Reno and Jamie Eason through this uplifting partner workout.
By Stefani Jackenthal | Photography Paul Buceta
While you may have outgrown your girlish celebrity crushes of yesteryear, outpacing a changing metabolism, hormones and the threat of gravity is a never-ending battle for women of all ages. And unfortunately, the areas that cause the most concern are universal, no matter what your age: arms, abs and glutes. Whether you’re 25 or 55 – or you’ve stopped counting altogether – our no-nonsense guide will help you stay bikini ready.
Pave Your Fitness Path
Starting an exercise routine early is the key to maintaining sculpted arms, a flat tummy and a cute tush.
"Where you gain weight partly depends on your genetics, but establishing a solid fitness plan early on that incorporates strength training, stretching and cardio is essential to maintaining strength, weight and posture," according to Paul Frediani, master trainer at JCC in Mahattan, and author or Powersculpt for Women (Hatherleigh Press, 2003). "You start young to stay young."
And your 20s are the perfect time to kick off good fitness habits. Your metabolism slows by up to five per cent every decade, partially because of a natural reduction in muscle mass, amounting to about half a pound each year beginning in your 20s. If you metabolism begins to lag but your calorie intake stays the same - or increase, due to an abundance of sugary happy-hour drinks - your body fat will rise.
The Family Years
Juggling work, family and friends can be over-whelming balancing act for 30-somethings, often resulting in limited time to work out.
"Fitness is more important than ever at this stage," notes Frediani.
Personal time and stress relief are two qualities of exercise that specifically benefit working mothers. And a thorough troublespot-blasting workout can still be completed with enough time left to pick up the kids, get through your grocery list and make it home in time for Masterchef.
FITTER THAN EVER
If your 40s and 50s arrive with newfound joint pain from years of wear and tear, consider this an ideal opportunity to try low-impact sports like butt-buffing cycling, shoulder-sculpting swimming and core-centric kayaking. But don’t forget to fortify these cardiovascular activities with a diverse strength-training program.
Research shows that strength training not only slows muscular deterioration, but is also helpful in preventing osteoporosis, another concern of women entering their midlife decades.
PARTNER IN CRIME
No matter what your age, Frediani recommends maintaining a healthy diet and fitness routine with cardio and strength training to increase lean body mass and maintain joint stability. But you don’t have to do it alone.
“Working out with a partner is a great way to keep each other motivated,” he says, adding that a workout buddy can introduce you to new moves and push you beyond your comfort zone.
However, he warns that it is important to lay ground rules beforehand and monitor your chattiness level to ensure that your workout doesn’t turn into a gab session. And don’t limit yourself to partners facing the same challenges as you. Although it can be helpful to have an empathetic ear to listen, anyone you choose to move with – a younger sister, your mother or even an older neighbor – can provide a much-needed boost.
TARGET MUSCLES: rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis
SET UP: Sit beside your partner on the floor or a step and raise your legs about six centimetres from the ground. Extend your arms at your sides, palms up, and lean back slightly so that your body forms a shallow V.
ACTION: Contract your abdominals and simultaneously bring your upper body forward while bending your knees toward your chest. Reverse and repeat.
TARGET MUSCLES: rectus abdominis (lower portion), hip flexors
SET UP: Lie with your head between your standing partner’s feet. Grab her ankles and raise your straightened legs six centimetres off the floor.
ACTION: Lift your hips and use a controlled motion to bring your legs perpendicular to the ground. Let your partner push your legs back toward the floor, but use muscle control to prevent them from touching the ground. Immediately repeat.
This is an exert from Oxygen Magazine Australia Issue 77. To purchase your copy, email firstname.lastname@example.org.