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Unless you're one of the lucky few to hit it big in the genetic lottery, staying fit ain't easy. And if it's this difficult now, imagine what it's going to be like in 10, 20, 30 years. But before you begin planning your future as a wobbly, overweight hunchback, understand that getting in the shape of your life for the rest of your life doesn't have to be daunting.
In fact, if you find your fitness workout groove now, you'll set yourself up for success in the future. Studies show that working out may lower a woman's risk of breast cancer by 37 percent, osteoporosis by 45 percent, and heart disease by 14 percent. So we tapped dozens of doctors and fitness experts to find out exactly what you should do to add years to your life.
The bottom line: Whether you're fresh out of college or funding Junior's tuition, the moment to launch your lifetime fitness plan is now. Then simply adjust your total-body workouts throughout the years to give your muscles, bones, and heart what they need to keep working well enough to keep up with you.
RELATED: The Best Workout for Your 40s!
Fate Says: Your Muscles Start To Shrink
After 45, most women who don't lift weights start losing a significant amount of muscle, most of it from the lower body. Less junk in the trunk may sound like a good thing, but decreased muscle mass leads to a slower metabolism. The fast-twitch muscle fibersÃ¢â‚¬”the stringy part of your muscles responsible for generating powerÃ¢â‚¬”are at the highest risk. They allow you to, say, jump to snag a shirt from the top shelf of your closet or sprint to your 10 o'clock appointment.
Cheat Fate: Jump Around
Maintaining muscle power and strength requires fast, explosive movements (think sprinting and jumping)Ã¢â‚¬”the kind of thing most of us stop doing once we graduate from middle school.
Keep your power levels high with this jump squat. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, arms hanging at your sides. Keeping your torso as upright as possible, quickly bend your knees and lower your hips back and down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Then immediately jump straight off the floor as high as you can. Land as softly as possible, sinking back down into squat positionÃ¢â‚¬”that's one rep. Repeat the jump. Do three to four sets of six reps, resting 1 minute in between sets.
Fate Says: Where's the F%$&#! Sandman?
Sleep studies show that women over 40 spend more sleepless nights (and not the coed naked kind) than 20-somethings. Experts aren't sure why exactly, but one thing is clear: less sleep = less energy = half-assed workouts.