Fitness after 30 - it is not all downhill
Many of our clients are 30+ years of age. They are parents, people with careers, and have myriad life responsibilities. We are essentially in the same place, with the specifics of our situation the difference.

This is Nathan, age 39, writing solo again to discuss the idea of fitness after 30. In our society, the age of 30 is an oft-dreaded milestone. A common joke is “it’s all downhill from 30.” That statement is only true if someone does not take care of his/her fitness and health.

If we consider lifespan as 80 years and divide that time into three sections for young, middle-aged, and senior, then 0-26 years is young, 27-52 is middle-aged, and 53+ is old. This is not the official definition for age, as varying sources show differing age ranges for each group. For example, one group notes middle age as starting at 36 another at 45, and another at 55, with all saying early adulthood is any time before those ages and old starts at 65-70. These are often arbitrary numbers, defined in some cases by age-specific markers, and in other cases by personal opinion. For example, one survey used the definition as noted by respondent opinions as to when middle age began. Again, these are arbitrary numbers and subject to interpretation.

The goal is not to define middle age in itself, let alone young or old for that matter, but rather to say that even if one is 30+ or that middle age starts at 30, these things do not matter.

Fitness is not defined by age

We use 30 as the reference age for this writing, but the reference age could easily be 20, 40, 50, 60, or any age. Age in and of itself does not determine how fit someone is. The approach someone uses for activity, nutrition, and overall wellbeing determines how fit he or she is. While genetics play a role as do environmental factors, these elements are minor contributing factors. The main determinant in fitness is how someone takes care of their body and mind.

You could place 50 different 40-year-old males side by side and find significant differences in physical ability, health, and overall mental as well as physical condition. Some of these differences would be due to environmental or genetic factors. For example, some people come from families in which heart disease is common so they may be more susceptible to the condition regardless of how well they take care themselves.

As an example, I will use two our of current clients, though I will not mention them by name. Instead we will refer to them as Client 1 and Client 2. Client 1 is 47 while Client 2 is 43. Since Client 1 is older than Client 2, conventional logic dictates the Client 2 must be fitter than Client 1. Let us look at some stats for comparison.

Client 1:

  • Age—47
  • Weight—184
  • Lean mass—142
  • Fat mass—42
  • Deadlift—295
  • Squat—250
  • Bench—187
  • Overhead press—113

Client 2:

  • Age—43
  • Weight—224
  • Lean mass—152
  • Fat mass—72
  • Deadlift—100
  • Squat—110
  • Bench—140
  • Overhead press—85

*All weights are in pounds*

  • Client 1 is older, but based on these stats, is also the fitter, leaner person. Health markers are not included, nor cardio. We did not include cardio since each client utilizes cardio in different ways and would not be a good comparison.
  • If age is the defining factor in fitness, then Client 2 should be fitter than Client 1, but that is not the case. We will look at the reasons why.
  • Client 1 has worked out for a shorter time than Client 2, but has worked with us longer. During the time working with us, Client 1 has committed to the process more than Client 2.
  • Though Client 2 has solo workout experience than Client 1, he has not committed to this process when working out on his own.
  • Total time in training or working out solo does not necessarily equal better results. Quality work must be present.
  • Client 1 is willing to work hard in all workouts. Client 2 will put in less than ideal work effort in workouts he does not want to complete.
  • Client 1 is more committed to nutrition than Client 2.

The reason Client 1 is fitter and leaner than Client 2 is he is more committed to the process. It has nothing to do with age, and very little to do with genetic or environmental factors. To see results, a person has to put in effort; a person must be motivated.

We could offer a host of other examples, but ultimately the results would be the same. When someone puts in quality work, he or she will reach goals. When someone does not put in effort, he or she will not reach goals. While age, genetics, and environmental factors can play a role, these things are not the defining elements.

Fitness after 30 (or after any age)

We would be remiss if we did not say that age does play a factor and to define that role. Science suggests that cells may have a genetic timer that leads to breakdown, but this fact is not concrete yet. However, it is worth considering. The more important age-related factor is cumulatively damage to the body. In all reality, after poor maintenance, years of damage are what lead to breakdown of the body as well as the perceived effects of “getting old.”

By damage we mean life. Walking, falling, poor diet, damage to skin from sun rays, drug use, damage to the lungs and body from polluted air, hard exercise, bone breakage from any cause, etc. all lead to damage in the body that may not be completely reversible. The longer someone lives, the more these things occur and more cumulative damage someone builds up.

Avoiding such damage, such as slips and falls that lead to broken bones or soft tissue damage, is one way to combat the effects of age-related cumulative damage. Another is to take care of ones self over time. Minimizing alcohol consumption, avoiding drugs, providing the body with necessary nutrients, and partaking in activity will help maintain the various bodily systems.

For people who workout, smart training can help prevent injuries that lead to cumulative damage while keeping people fit. Smart training means having goals, using an organized training program, following a structed nutrition strategy, knowing when to push as well as when pull back, using good technique, managing fatigue as well as stress (mental and physical from workouts and life), and overall taking a healthy whole body and mind approach to health and wellness.

Fitness is not defined by age; it is defined by how well someone takes care of himself or herself.

Nathan DeMetz holds degrees in Exercise Science, Business Administration, and Information Technology as well as certifications in strength and conditioning, sports nutrition, run coaching, and other areas. His credentials come from organizations such as Indiana Wesleyan University, Ivy Tech College, Utah State University, and the ISSA College of Exercise Science. Nathan has 20 years of personal and professional experience in the health and fitness world. He works with people from across the globe, including locations such as Kuwait, Australia, and the USA.