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Know what the best exercise is for your age

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It’s never too early or too late to prioritize fitness. Here are the perfect diets and workout regimens you need for your age.

Exercise has been proven to thwart a number of ageing factors — stress, obesity, heart disease and diabetes. But a 50-year-old’s body is not the same as a 20-year-old’s, and you can’t push it the same way. Now, experts share their opinion on how to find the perfect diet and exercise regimen for your age.

Older than 50 years

Diet: “You need smaller meals at this stage, but they should have the highest food value. Buy fresh or frozen food rather than canned. Make eating   a social affair. This can remind you to eat regular and balanced meals, which will stave off illness, keep your senses sharp and increase energy,” advises Vikram Srivastava, health expert, Kartavya Healtheon, a health management company.

Fitness: This age requires you to be alert and careful about the choice of exercises. “Resistance training with light dumbbells can be done under expert supervision. Opt for brisk walks or stationary cycles,” says fitness expert Mickey Mehta. “Whenever possible, take the stairs or walk to the grocery store. Practice regular meditation for relaxation and focus,” says Srivastava, adding, “Weight exercises keep bones and muscles strong and improve mobility. If you cannot hold weights, do arm and leg repetitions without them.”

How it helps: “Just 30 to 60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise performed three to five times a week improves health and emotional stability. Regular exercise helps prevent common problems that come with age,” explains Srivastava.

Between 30-50 years

Diet: At this stage, with work and family taking priority, it is hard to find time for fitness activities. “This is the time to add carbohydrates to your meal,” says Srivastava, adding, “Oatmeal can reduce the risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol. Eat more salads and greens.” Atul Peters, director, Institute of Bariatric, Metabolic & Minimal Access Surgery, Fortis Hospital, emphasises a balanced diet, saying, “A balanced diet with  adequate proteins, fats and carbohydrates is necessary.”

Fitness:  “Focus on improving bone density and immunity,” says Mehta, adding, “Cardio workouts can include jogging, cycling, aerobics and swimming. Yoga and meditation are recommended for core strength and stability.” Srivastava adds, “Do cardiovascular workouts for 30 minutes to an hour three to five days a week.”

How it helps: Srivastava says “Regular exercise lowers the risk of functional limitations in middle-aged people. Moderate-intensity aerobic activities improve balance, strengthen muscles and prevent diabetes  and cardiovascular disease.”

Between 18–30 years

Diet: The great thing about being in this age group is that your body and its immune system are at their strongest. You can eat anything and everything as your body is capable of digesting it all. “But the ideal diet for an adult in this age group should comprise three to five small meals and snacks a day (about 250-300 calories per meal or snack),” says Srivastava. He adds, “Do not eat late at night, and avoid junk food and caffeine. Also, limit the intake of alcohol and soda. Give your body vitamins through fruits and vegetables, and protein and iron through lean meat and fish.” Peters says, “A high-protein diet provides the building blocks for developing muscles and bones.”

Fitness: “Running should be at the core of any exercise for this age group. It helps build stamina and keeps you active. Those interested in bodybuilding can get into weight training,” advises Srivastava. “Do activities like brisk walks, cycling, trekking, or play outdoor games like cricket, hockey and tennis. You can also try power yoga and Pilates for flexibility, balance and co-ordination,” adds Mehta.

How it helps: Running, jogging and aerobics help improve cardio-respiratory function and oxygen intake. “It increases the blood flow, burns calories and lowers the heart rate. Lifting weights or working out at a gym builds muscle strength, improves flexibility and adds lean muscle mass,” says Srivastava. “Exercise also improves concentration and overall focus,” adds Peters.