Looking great at any age

By Mark Anders with interviews by Carol H. Pajaron and Mike Diez

Age 20 to 29: Grow, Show, and Go

"Nature doesn't give a damn whether you live beyond the age of 25," says Leonard Hayflick, PhDd, a professor emeritus at UCSF and author of How and Why We Age. "Nature's only concern is that we live long enough to raise offspring to independence." Tthat's why for most of human history, the average life expectancy has been about 20 years. Oof course, we've found ways to live longer, primarily by eradicating diseases. But the surest way to cheat death is to stack the game early. Think of your 20s as a decade of pregame practice. Iinvest a couple of hours of effort every week now, and it will save you a decades-long decline later.



Your body is pumping out tons of human growth hormone (HGH) and testosterone, which leads to a peak in muscle mass sometime between ages 18 and 25, says Walter Thompson, PhD, a professor of kinesiol¬ogy, health, and nutri¬tion at Georgia State University in Atlanta. The bad part: It's only temporary.

Feast on the flood. By the time you're 22 or 23, HGH production begins to decrease, dropping 2-5 percent each decade after that, silently stealing your strength. Build as much as you can now, and when you're 40 you can just maintain the brawn.


Researchers at Johns Hopkins University followed 1,321 former medical students and found that those who injured their knees as young adults were more than twice as likely to develop arthritis as they grew older.

Stretch your hamstrings. Lack of flexibility in the hamstrings causes many knee problems. Avoid them with this hamstring stretch: Sit on the floor with your legs straight and spread a few feet apart. Bend your right leg and bring the foot to your left knee. Then try to touch both hands to your left foot. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds, then switch legs. Repeat three times every day.

Ease up on the cardio. Pounding the pavement too hard, too often can wear down the cartilage in your joints. So limit your running to no more than four days a week. Instead, try a sport like basketball, in which you start and stop often. It's actually better for your carti¬lage than the repetitive pounding of jogging. Strength training can also strengthen carti¬lage, says Thompson.


During college, most guys eat like sumo wrestlers but burn off the extra calories playing sports, walking to class, chasing skirts, and just being generallyactive. After graduation, the feast continues—but without the physical activity. "From the day of graduation, most men start gaining weight," says Thompson. "Before long, you're sitting at your desk and you're 25 pounds overweight."

Travel east for healthy eats. Restaurants tend to serve large por¬tions, and the food can be high in fat. Plus, there's often a limited choice of vegetables. "Picking the type of restaurant wisely can help," says Hope Warshaw, RD, author of Eat Out, Eat Right. Warshaw says that Asian cuisine—Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese—generally includes more vegetables.

Play hide-and-seek. Put the beer and sodas in your refrigerator's vegetable drawer and leave the carrots out in plain sight so you'll remember to eat them, says Nancy Clark, MS, RD, senior sports nutritionist at Boston-based Healthworks Fitness Center.


Looking good can help you land a better job and a better mate. In a recent study, researchers at Yale University found that a significant bias against overweight people—stereotyping them as lazy, less valuable, and less intelligent—exists even among health professionals whose careers emphasize obesity research.

Build your show muscles. Pay particular attention to your chest, shoulders, and biceps—the muscles people are most apt to notice first. To build maximum muscle in these areas, Tom Seabourne, PhD, CSCS, an exercise physiologist at North¬eastern Texas Community College, designed an exclusive strength-training routine (below) for men in their 20s. It includes explosive power moves, like the bench-press throw, that take advantage of your increased hormonal activity to develop muscle faster.

Age 30 To 39: Prevention and Planning

Carefree days have been replaced by 24-7 responsibilities: a wife, a baby, a mortgage, and a boss who reminds you of all three. Burritos that disappeared in a puff of metabolic smoke now linger like an oil spill. "Your physiological capacity—the overall performance of most of your body's systems—decreases by around 1 percent per year from 30 onward," says hayflick. hence the burrito hangover. To counter this physiological decline, switch your strategy to preventive fitness. You need to continue lifting heavy weights to preserve the muscle you built in your 20s; stretching takes priority, because you're going to start losing flexibility; and regular interval training is on the list so you can combat the loss of stamina that will start in the middle of this decade. The good news: It's never too late to make a fresh start.



Flexibility decreases in your 30s, not only because you're likely to sit in an office chair for hours every day, but also because many of the activities you do—running, weight lifting, even basketball—don't call for a full range of motion. "There's actually a shortening of both muscle and connective tissue," says Brent Feland, PhD, an aging and flexibility researcher at Brigham Young University.

Say yes to yoga. "Yoga requires you to go through full ranges of motion and to hold those positions," says Feland. Take a class once a week and use the moves everywhere. "Get out of your chair and into a stretch while you're watching SportsCenter," advises Feland. "It's really easy to do. You just have to develop the habit."


Stamina peaks for most men around 31 or 32, but within the next five years your aerobic capacity declines. "The heart is a muscle just like any other, and as you age, you lose some strength," says Jordan Metzl, MD, author of The Young Athlete: A Sports Doctor's Complete Guide for Parents. Also starting in your 30s, your body's ability to extract oxygen from your blood diminishes, your cholesterol counts and blood pressure rise, and fatty deposits begin to build up on the walls of your arteries.

Schedule a checkup. Ask your doctor to work up your lipoprotein profile. Catch the trouble early enough and it's a good bet that exercise alone will prolong your life.

Speed up, Slow down. Maintain your aerobic capacity with regular interval training, says Dr. Metzl. Do this workout three times a week: Start with a 10-minute warmup of light jogging. Then sprint for 45 seconds at 80 percent of your maximum heart rate. Recover with 90 seconds of walking or light jogging, and repeat your cycle of sprints 8-12 times. Cool down with a 10-minute jog.


"If your body were a car, it'd require less gas to run as it grew older," says Dr. Metzl. In fact, your body consumes 12 fewer calories per day for each year after 30, and most men reach their maximum body weight between ages 34 and 54.

Limit your fuel. You need less fuel now, so don't feel obligated to clean your plate at every meal—leave that to the dishwasher. When you snack, don't eat from the box or carton. If you dole out a reasonable portion, you'll be less likely to absentmindedly eat the whole container.


Electrical forces bind all of your body's molecules together, but these forces begin to weaken in your 30s, so some of those molecules begin to malfunction. Strength and coordina¬tion are usually the first to go, and muscle mass drops. If you don't take steps to prevent it, you'll lose about six pounds of muscle in the next 10 years.

Build muscle for daily activities. Switch focus from mirror muscles to functional strength, flexibility, and balance. Your tendons and joints aren't as sturdy as they used to be when you were a kid; pay attention to form to prevent injuries. Seabourne's slow-tempo exercises (see below) are safer for your joints, but you'll still maintain a high intensity.

Age 40 to 49: Never Back Down

During your 40S, you realize that your body's warranty has indeed expired. And you could probably use a little body work. "All my buddies are getting fat," says 48-year-old Seabourne, the author of Athletic Abs: Maximum Core Fitness Training. But your 40s are also when you've established your career a bit, so you can leave the late-night duty to junior staff. For the first time since college, you have a little discretionary time. you've earned three hours of workout time during the week and a longer session on the weekends. no excuses. your body needs the work right now; delay isn't an option.



For most men in their 40s, height begins to decrease. "Disks in the spine are fluid filled, like shock absorbers," says Seabourne. "But as you grow older, they act more like dried-out sponges." By the time you hit 60, you'll likely have shrunk by 1¼ inches.

Stand and sit up straight. Seabourne says posture is more important now than ever. Imagine you have a string pulling your body up from the top of your head: shoulders back, head up, spine neutral. "That'll keep those disks healthy. And you'll appear thinner and taller because your posture will be better," he says.

Lengthen and strengthen. Developing the muscular endurance of your core is essential to maintaining good posture, says Seabourne. The key is to lengthen your spine through stretching, and strengthen your abs and lower back. Try to do this exercise at least once every day:

The Yoga Pose. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and place your hands against the small of your back. Inhale as you slowly lift your chest. Exhale as you stretch, slowly tilting your head back and gently pulling your elbows toward each other. Remain in this position and let gravity stretch you into the natural arch of your back. Do this for 3-8 seconds. Try it between sets of your weight workout.


Whatever your sport, you have to prepare your body to perform. Lots of middle-aged weekend warriors come home with injuries like torn hamstrings, sprained ankles, or worse.

Feel the flow. Seabourne says a short warmup—8-10 minutes of light cardiovascular work—starts the flow of synovial fluid, a natural lubricating solution found in joints. It also elevates your core temperature so your muscles are more elastic and you have less chance of injury.


As your personal odometer ticks upward, your risks of heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure also go up. You owe it to yourself and your family to stick to an exercise program—the best way to dodge heart and head bombs. But to keep in the game, you have to prepare your body to perform. The day after exercise, you want to feel a pleasant soreness, not debilitating injuries.

Find a trail. A study of nearly 11,000 Harvard alumni found that a brisk 30- to 60-minute walk 5 days a week cuts stroke risk by 24-50 percent.

Keep track. Take note of your speed, distance, and pace.


"After age 30, you lose about half a pound of muscle per year—if you're sedentary—which turns into 2.6 pounds of fat per year, just because of metabolic slowdown," says Seabourne. In that trade-off, everybody loses.

Eat six small meals daily instead of three big ones. It'll keep your furnace stoked, making it burn fat more efficiently. It'll also boost HDL (good) cholesterol and cut LDL (bad) cholesterol.

Add a pound of muscle. Muscle tissue needs more calories for maintenance and rebuilding processes than fat tissue does. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn—even at rest. "Gain just one pound of muscle, and that's an additional 50 calories you'll burn each day," says Seabourne. For the 40s strength workout (below), Seabourne calls for a slower lifting tempo but keeps the weights fairly heavy, so you can build muscle mass. "It's still cool to lift heavy, but you need to pay strict attention to your form and protect your joints," he says. Glucosamine supplements can help with your day-after pains.

Age 50'S and up: Defending your turf

By now you have it figured out (i.e., you know that nobody has it figured out). you're a master at the office, a veteran in the weight room, the head of the clan. But you're fighting Mother nature and entropy at the same time, and that's one tough tag team. australian researchers found that men age 58 and older often struggle with body-image issues. Performing at least two exercise sessions per week boosts men's self-esteem by helping them feel better about their bodies' ability to perform routine tasks. and feeling good motivates you to make more gains. your fitness program should help you avoid pain and do what's important to you. okay, so you're not a kid anymore. neither is Clint eastwood. But he can still kick some butt.



Many men in their 50s begin to have joint trouble. The main culprits: overuse injuries and osteoarthritis.

Ride a bike. Researchers at Arcadia University studied 39 people suffering from osteoarthritis of the knees and found that cycling just 25 minutes a day, three times a week, significantly improved pain relief and performance in walking tests. So saddle up.


Bone minerals are lost and replaced throughout life—it's a natural process —but after age 35, the loss begins to outpace the replacement. At 50, this imbalance can hurt you.

More stress. Stressing your bones strengthens them. Walking beats swimming, running beats walking, and strength training is the best bone builder of all, says Wojtek Chodzko-Zajko, PhD, head of kinesiology at the University of Illinois.

Have a cow. The average 50-year-old needs about 1,200 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day for healthy bones. Get that from one eight-ounce glass of milk (300 mg), six ounces of yogurt (300 mg), a handful of almonds (150 mg), and two ounces of Swiss cheese (540 mg).


Inactivity can tighten your spine and pelvic muscles, forcing your knees and lower back to compensate. That's why they ache, explains Mark Verstegen, author of Core Performance.

Roll your foam. Exercising with a foam roll can loosen the muscles around your pelvis and torso. Lie on top of the roll with your arms crossed over your chest. Keep your abs tight and your feet on the ground. Glide on the roll from your shoulders to the base of your spine several times until you feel the muscles release. Do more foam-roll moves to loosen hamstrings, quadriceps, groin, and glutes.

Take a Pilates class. Strengtheningyour stomach muscles can ease back pain. "Pilates includes a lot of balance activities on one hand and one knee that are aimed at stabilizing and strengthening the core," says Chodzko-Zajko.


Between ages 57 and 86, your body literally dries up. It will likely consist of just 54 percent water, as opposed to the 61 percent found in younger men. You'll also sweat less because your sweat glands disappear. You may have less body odor, but overheating and heatstroke become an issue.

Be a camel. "Drinking fluids is more important as you grow older," says Chodzko-Zajko. "One of the problems with aging is that thirst decreases with age, so people tend to drink less."


Muscle tissue needs more calories for maintenance and rebuilding processes than fat tissue does. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn—even at rest. "Gain just one pound of muscle, and that's an additional 50 calories you'll burn each day," says Seabourne. For the 40s strength workout (below), Seabourne calls for a slower lifting tempo but keeps the weights fairly heavy, so you can build muscle mass. "It's still cool to lift heavy, but you need to pay strict attention to your form and protect your joints," he says. Glucosamine supplements can help with your day-after pains.

Play with heavy metal. Don't shy away from heavy weights because you think you're susceptible to injury. As long as you use proper form, which you should master now if you haven't already, heavy weights will keep your bones strong and your muscles large. Seabourne kept the weights up in your workout (below) but slowed the tempo and concentrated on lifts that develop balance.


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