If you exercise in your own space, you will never feel low, old or hopeless. Even if you do, you will be able to rid yourself of it in a snap of your fingers. I advise a fixed time daily. Research says that after 3 pm the body is more flexible. It does feel more effortless. It is also because the mind has begun to relax relatively. When half the day has seen enough work done, you tend to be easier on yourself. The age and stage you are at matters too.
Twinkle-toed 20s. In your 20s, you are all set to whip your body into shape, to practically punish your muscles into toning and growing. But don’t overdo it. Aim for consistency rather than peaks. It’s a great time to harness your enthusiasm and energy to build bone and muscle. Running, weight-training, abdominals should be your thrust. It’s a good time to get into sports too — football, cricket, hockey, netball give the body and mind super agility.
Tip: Play for the fun of it. Winning helps, but it’s not everything. Dr Ashley Montagu narrates an anecdote where an Indian tennis player was pitted against an Australian champion. Once, when the Australian executed a particularly beautiful shot, the Indian spontaneously clapped and laughed in delight at the elegance and completion of the action, his own racquet forgotten!
Thirsty 30s. As you step into your 30s, you could be in a stress-zone with work, aiming for promotions, family-life… A brisk walk or outdoor cycling is great. If you’re short on time, get an indoor bicycle and pedal at 80–100 rpm for just 20 minutes every day. Abs are a must as they strengthen your core and, at the same time, teach those muscles to relax. It’s a good time to get into yoga too. If you enjoy your game, continue playing. The quick bursts of movements spike your energy levels and are terrific stress-busters. Remember to always warm up before a game and cool down after.
Tip: Work on being a warm, loving person who lives to love and loves to live. That kind of success should not pass you by. It’s wonderful to have friendly faces and feelings at work and loving, easy intimacy at home. There’s a lovely anecdote about a man who told his wife that he was going to ask his boss for a raise that day. He walked into his boss’ cabin nervously and…to his surprise, the boss agreed immediately. When he reached home in the evening, his wife had laid out their best china and cooked his favourite dishes. On his plate, she’d put a card: ‘Congrats, dear. I knew you’d get the raise. These things will tell you how much I love you.’ After their special candle-lit dinner, as she stood up, a card fell out of her pocket. He picked it up. On it she’d written, ‘Don’t worry about not getting the raise. You deserve it anyway because you are special. These things will tell you how much I love you.’ These are the treasured times when though you may be down, you feel uplifted.
Analytical 40s. There’s a bit of immaturity to be shed and it gets easier here because even our body helps us in this endeavour. It grows tiny, thin filaments between our brain cells. This increases our analytical power and, depending on how we use it, can be the beginning of wisdom or depression. Opt for wisdom. I’ll never forget the expression on a friend’s face when she said, ‘Why do I feel more sensitive? I can’t take criticism from my boss like I used to,’ and when I explained that she was getting greater analytical powers, her face lit up like the moon. When you know what you’ve been blessed with, you’re awakened and all set, once again, to better your best.
In our 40s, an active lifestyle is a great boon — it boosts energy and motivation when things get rough. And it prevents high blood pressure and obesity. It’s wise to pack Vissco’s body shaper pulleys with you if your work entails travel. They need to be just hooked to a window grill and the exercises done as given clearly in the accompanying booklet. It’s a complete body workout and the bonus: it’s simple and easy.
Flattering 50s. The 50s, nowadays, are the new 30s. Maybe due to a greater awareness all around, but we don’t look all that different or feel all that different in our 50s, do we? Hopefully, if you’ve exercised daily, precisely because the pandemic necessitated you staying home 24/7, you’re likely to be fitter than you ever were. Here, it’s great to keep your shoulders strong, so go for shrugs. Continue with pulleys, abs, etc. A useful exercise is armchair cycling. You sit on an armchair, keep the mini-cycle in front and pedal as you watch your favourite movie on TV. Start at 20 minutes @70–80 rpm and increase it to 60 minutes over the weeks. Research says that blood circulation gets a wee sluggish in the 50s and that can cause dizzy spells or blank moments. Your 60-minute legwork will take care of these discomforts. Follow up by pushing aside the cycle and raising and lowering your legs. These as well as leg raises done on the floor are good for the knees.
Tip: Windmills help the shoulder joints stay fluid and flexible. And torso twists keep stiffness at bay in the spine.
Secrets of the 60s and on… The 60s, 70s, 80s roll in slowly. It’s a beautiful time to let go a lot of inner pressures completely. It’s marvelous because there is in you a 20-year-old, a 30-year-old, a 40-year-old and so on. Your understanding of life is deeper, so is the depth of living and being alive. The mind is mellower, and so is the brain, according to the George Washington University College of Medicine. Apparently, the brain’s left and right hemispheres become more harmonious and promote creativity. Combine these with the years of rich experience and you’ve got a great cocktail for happiness and fulfillment.
Tip: This is not the time to stop exercising. Outdoor/indoor walking or armchair cycling are great activities to kick off your regime. No exercise is taboo unless you have some condition — listen to your doctor. And do what resonates with your mind and body.
The 60-plus is the age of renaissance and resonance. Prof Monchi Uri of the University of Montreal believes that the elderly brain is practical; it cuts the unnecessary and chooses the right options for problem-solving. Such new light places the 60s as great for clarity and right decisions; the 70s as when the brain begins to work at full strength. And all these peak at 90.
Please exercise whatever your age. To borrow Dr Montagu’s quote: ‘You don’t need a cent, all you need is yourself.’
The writers are authors of Fitness for Life and Simply Spiritual – You Are Naturally Divine and teachers of the Fitness for Life programme.