Posted on Aug 23

Fitness Tips For Women In Their Thirties

By: Holly Perkins, New Balance Fitness Ambassador

Fitness Tips For Women In Their Thirties

Most women sail through their twenties with ease in regard to fitness, health and weight management. Their busy lifestyles and high metabolisms keep them burning hot. As our lives shifts from social to work and family focus, so does our activity level. There is a natural shift usually unrecognized by most of us in the direction of sitting more each day. The thirties are big years for personal change and development. I've had the pleasure of witnessing this in many of my clients. Here are a few common threads that I see consistently in women in their thirties.

1. Create the body you wanted in your twenties
It is true that the body changes as we age, but the truth isn't what you think. As we age, there is a natural loss of muscle mass called sarcopenia: it increases in rate as we increase in years. To some degree this muscle loss is unavoidable. Whenever this topic comes up I find that most people think they should give up, but the real truth is you can absolutely fight and win this battle!

It is with women in their thirties that I see the biggest shift from naturally "tight," to naturally "not so tight," and muscle loss is largely to blame. The exciting news is that a well rounded, strength training program can correct all the evils of age. By keeping your muscle mass up, you keep your metabolism up. These are the most important years to explore a strength training program that works for you. You have a great opportunity to truly create the body you've always wanted. The shift in your thirties from an active to a more sedentary lifestyle creates more biological energy to build beautiful muscle tone. You'll be able to develop toned arms and thighs more easily, as well as have more energy to dedicate to muscle development. The amount of muscle that you have directly influences your metabolism. Using strength training to manage body weight and create the body of your dreams is the way to go. I find that it is easier to develop toned muscles on women in their thirties than women in their twenties.

I hope you're also aware that strength training helps prevent osteoporosis. You've heard of the term "weight bearing activity," right? During your thirties you set the stage for how many aches and pains you'll have when you're older. You are also influencing how strong your bones will be as you age. If you're like me, and I find that most of us are similar, you'll believe, "oh osteoporosis, that won't happen to me." Strength training not only will help prevent osteoporosis, but it also keeps you moving, happy and pain free into your golden years. Here are some great exercises to promote bone strength: Squats, Walking Lunges and Jumping / Plyometrics.

2. Food Sensitivities
It has been estimated that most people eat a surprisingly low number of different foods. Most of us have a limited number of "go to" foods that we eat almost every day. If you are like most folks, foods such as wheat, corn and dairy probably make their way into your body many times a day. At this point, you've been eating those same foods for about 30 years—crazy, huh? It's been proven that too much exposure to a particular food can cause your body to develop an irritation. Essentially, the delicate walls of your gastrointestinal tract (GI tract) start to react as though that particular food is an enemy. Over time this reaction causes inflammation in your digestive system. It is estimated that 75% of people have some degree of irritation to certain foods, which is an aspect of silent inflammation. You may not have a full-blown allergy to wheat, but it certainly could be causing an irritation in your system.

This is a great time to reevaluate your diet and see if it needs some adjusting. Even if you've always enjoyed certain foods, it's possible to develop sensitivities to them. Foods that you eat the most are the foods that first develop into a food allergy. I stress the concept of cutting back, as opposed to cutting out the food. Some of the symptoms that could suggest food sensitivity are: daily general malaise, foggy brain, distended or bloated abdomen, irregular elimination, strong food cravings, chronic low energy, poor recovery from exercise, and unstable blood sugar. Common foods that cause the most trouble are wheat, soy, corn, dairy products, and nuts.

Some experts say a great indicator of possible food sensitivity is when there's a strong visceral reaction and pleasure to certain foods. This would be the food that you love and can't live without. For me, it's peanut and almond butter. I don't react to any other foods the way I do to peanut butter, not even sugar, or my beloved cappuccino. Elimination diets are a great way to determine if you have any food sensitivities. This is how I discovered that I had issues with wheat and soy, as well. Keep an eye out for digestion issues that shift after eating certain foods.

3. Hormonal: Baby making years
For most women, their thirties are about family. These are the big baby making and child-rearing years! I'm proud to say I've already coached three moms through extremely successful pregnancies this year. Each has commented that their pregnancies and deliveries were easier because of their fitness level.

To keep things simple, I consider two distinct phases of fitness in pregnancy and have different strategies for each. Certainly, a thorough fitness plan during pregnancy is far more detailed than this, but these are simply two big picture considerations that have helped my clients:

Phase 1: Preparing your body for pregnancy

Nutrition: For optimal health, there are a few dietary changes that are important during your pregnancy. Most experts agree that it is wise to cut back, or completely eliminate sugar, caffeine and alcohol during gestation. Since these are big-ticket items that most of us love and depend on, I encourage my clients to begin cutting back on these things prior to conception.

Strength Training: I teach my clients to think of their 9 months of pregnancy as their own private Tour de France or Ironman. This is a monumental physical challenge and you want to train like an athlete for it. If you prepare your body now for the requirements of this event, you'll breeze through your pregnancy like Rocky! Certainly, your training program should not be as intense as the pros, but your mentality can be the same. Cultivating a solid foundation of strength prior to getting pregnant will provide you with the stamina needed for your 9 months. Once this foundation is established, you can maintain your strength throughout your pregnancy. Most women report that labor is much easier when they are super fit.

The Exercise Rules: It's very important that you begin and develop your fitness program prior to getting pregnant. It's generally not a good idea to begin your fitness journey once you get pregnant. Aim to give yourself 3-6 months prior to getting pregnant on a consistent exercise program of 3-4 days each week. Then, once you become pregnant, you can continue your fitness program at your current fitness level. You may choose to ease back and slow down a bit during your workouts, but if you're feeling well and your doctor gives you clearance, you can continue working out at your familiar intensities.

Phase 2: Preparing your body for being a mom

Without exception, every mom I've worked with experiences a sense of guilt when it comes to time spent away from her child. Time away from family often brings up feelings of selfishness. So many of my clients feel that they are being selfish if they take time out to hit the gym or go for a walk. In truth, you will be a better mother, wife and friend if you make a discernible intention to allow yourself some "me" time.

It's incredibly important to identify your mechanism of motivation to ensure you take action on things that will foster your physical and mental health, improve your sense of well-being and provide you with recharge time. By taking time out for workouts, you'll be leading by example: health and fitness are important. Regular workouts will also provide you with stress relief, better energy and more stamina. This is a gift to give your family—the best possible you.

4. Manage your stress before it manages you
Most of us at some point have been told that it's important to recognize and manage stress levels. Looking back, I now realize that I was stressed in my twenties. I came from a very small town in Pennsylvania and was living in the heart of New York City, where you simply cannot escape the general stress of city living. Navigating life caused a certain kind of physical and mental stress that I simply refused to recognize. I see this same scenario frequently in my clients. I can see that they are clearly stressed, but they are genuinely blind to it. In my case, I continued burning the candle at both ends until my mid-thirties, when I pretty much burned out. It wasn't until my doctor, dad and husband all demanded that I learn to manage stress that I implemented some kind of stress management tactics. I explored the often cited ways to reduce stress, like exercise and eating right, but being a trainer I had those habits down. For me, I needed to find my own ways that caused a physiological reduction in stress.

Your thirties are a very important time to develop a respect for stress and how it manifests uniquely for you. Things to consider when measuring your stress:

-Are you edgy and easily irritated?
-Does your brain tend to become negative more than a few times each day?
-Do you have headaches?
-Do you grind your teeth at night?
-Do you ever take time to simply check out?

For me, I've learned that it's critical to have time each weekend when I don't have to do anything. I need time to simply space out, aimlessly float around the Internet, or my favorite, treat Whole Foods like a library and wander, read and learn with no regard for the clock. Other ways to manage your stress beyond the often cited ways:

-Gentle yoga.
-Lying down without sleeping for 10 minutes.
-Brain-drain journaling.
-Taking a long drive alone.
-Use a small ball and roll it under your feet. This is a great way to use reflexology and relax tension points, which reduce stress.

Try out a new approach this week. Studies show that stress management leads to a healthier and happier life. Learn to manage your stress so that it doesn't manage you!

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