You know that feeling you get when you’re faced with the consequences of inaction? You get the inevitable, “if only I started sooner!” feeling. No matter how old you are, I’m sure you’ve experienced this more than once in your life…
- “If only I started this assignment sooner!”
- “If only I started saving sooner!”
- “If only I went back to school sooner!”
The list goes on.
This emotion is regret. We realize we had the time to change the course of our lives, but failed to act. It comes as no surprise that as humans (and inherent procrastinators) we often put off today what we think we can do tomorrow. Often, it isn’t until it’s too late that we decide to take action. While I can’t help you reconcile all the issues your quarter life crisis is bringing on, I can help you prepare your body and health for the rest of your life.
Your 20’s are the time when it ISN’T too late to do something. When you’re in your 30’s, 40’s, 50’s+ you don’t want to feel the sting of regret. Unlike things of your past that you cannot change and must live with (we won’t get into them here, save it for your therapist), your foundation of health and fitness is still greatly affected by the choices you make in your 20’s.
The 10 Best Health and Fitness Tips All People Under the Age of 30 Need to Know
The following 10 health and fitness tips are vitally important for anyone, but especially important for those in their 20’s. The differences you make during this decade will determine to a great extent your health and well-being many years down the road.
- Build strong bones NOW. Bone mass peaks in your mid to late 20s, meaning whatever you have built up by that time has to carry you through the remainder of your days. Weight-bearing exercise is a fantastic way to increase bone density and ensure you don’t spend the last years of your life laid up in a bed because you broke a hip. “Bones are like muscles; they get stronger at the specific region that’s stressed,” says Ana Gomez, Ph.D.
- Metabolism slows in your late 20’s and continues a downward progression throughout the rest of your life. Understand this and combat it. Perform exercises and workout routines that are designed to counteract the natural slowing of your metabolism. Specific routines have the added benefit of giving you a metabolism boost, thereby helping to keep your body in fat burn mode.
- Important “fit body” hormones decline. The hormones that allow you to build muscle, burn fat, and maintain a trim “fit body” slowly decrease as you age. The hormones HGH, DHEA, and thyroid hormone are significantly lower at 30 than they were at 20. Don’t fret though. This doesn’t mean you are destined to be trapped in an overweight and out-of-shape body. Doing high-intensity training, lifting heavy weights, and maintaining a proper diet has been shown to slow the decline of these hormones, and in some cases, increase hormone production.
- There is going to come a time when you physically cannot do the things you enjoy. Whether it’s compete in an Ironman race or simply take a yoga class, you will lose your ability to do the things you enjoy. Don’t get depressed, just make sure to live your life to the fullest now. Your body is still highly resilient and able to bounce back. Push it to the max, try new things, and most of all, don’t set yourself up to regret missing out later in life.
- Sleep is important for both physical and mental well-being. While sleep requirements change throughout all phases of your life, in your 20’s it is recommended you get a solid 8-9 hours of sleep. It’s far too easy to fall into poor sleep cycles, so make a point to maintain a bed time most nights and get into the routine of getting a full night’s rest. If you aren’t getting enough sleep now, you’ll be amazed at how well you feel and how your health and fitness levels increase when you start getting your daily requirement of shut-eye.
- Fight cancer now. There’s no doubt we have all been touched by this deadly disease in one way or another. While genetics plays a part, research is beginning to show a greater importance our lifestyle has on our liklihood of developing this disease. I’ll tell you right now, it’s NOT too late to make healthy choices and avoid this disease down the road. Stop smoking, stop eating high-fat processed foods all the time, start exercising, and eat your veggies. If you can’t do it for yourself, think about your significant other, future kids, and friends and family who will be affected by your cancer diagnosis.
- Want a lean, trim, and athletic physique? Get started now. The longer you wait, the harder it becomes to add muscle. Due to a decrease in muscle-building hormones, adding muscle becomes a much more difficult task as you age. It is far easier to maintain muscle than it is to gain it, so start weight training now. To build power, focus on using speed and agility drills, combined with plyometrics and traditional weight-bearing exercises. And please, forget the 5 lb dumbbell curls and go for exercise routines that will really help you make progress.
- Flexibility is vitally important. This is an often overlooked component of health but is something that deserves your attention now. Being flexible will help prevent debilitating injuries down the road, improve blood circulation, and even increase your ability to add muscle mass. Unfortunately as we age, our bodies stiffen and becoming limber is much harder. Increasing flexibility is easy. Try doing yoga or using a foam roller regularly to increase your flexibility.
- End the sugar cycle before it’s too late. Sugar is evil..simple as that. Sugar, like a drug, becomes harder to get off of the longer you’ve been on it. Slowly taper your sugar intake now. Sugar is an inflammatory agent that breaks down collagen, feeds cancer cells, and depresses your immune system. This makes us susceptible to both acute and chronic illness. While it may not be something to worry about when you are young and strong in your 20’s, it will most certainly be cause for concern when you approach your 40’s and beyond. You don’t need to get all crazy, but make strides to significantly cut the sugar from your diet. Changes like opting for water over fruit juice is a great example of how little changes can make a big difference.
- Live the life you want. This is the time of your life when you are largely free or responsibilities that life has a way of bringing on as you age. Don’t settle because it’s easy or convenient. Stop taking the easy road. If you want to look the model on the cover of Men’s/Women’s Health magazine, more power to you. There will be a day when this goal simply becomes a missed opportunity and wish gone by. Above all else, don’t live with regrets.
Your 20’s are a vitally important decade for building a foundation of health and fitness for many years to come. The habits you develop now will often carry you through the remainder of your days. Older people who made the committment to live a healthy life are still active and enjoying a high-quality of living well into their 80’s and 90’s. Being that age may seem so far down the line, but believe me, when you’re that old, you’ll be thanking your 20-year-old self for the things you did that allow you to remain active and healthy.
If you’re already well past your 20’s, don’t let this article discourage you. The good thing about health and fitness is it is never too late to start until it’s too late to start. If you are able to get started on a fitness routine, then what are you waiting for? I’ve seen countless (literally, I can’t even keep count) clients and readers well into their 30’s, 40’s, and even 50’s who have made significant transformations in their bodies and health. It’s never too late to start, just don’t allow any more wasted time to pass.
I leave you with a quote that I find to be quite appropriate…
When you look back on your life, many years from today, you’ll regret the things you didn’t do more than the things you did.
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