Lift weights regularly while in your 20s.

How to Stay Fit in Your 20s

by Kelsey Casselbury

Your 20s are a time for starting your career, beginning a family and learning to maneuver life as a full-fledged adult. All of these life changes can make for hectic days and sleepless nights, but your 20s are also a time for building a foundation of good health, including regular exercise and good nutrition. If you get fit during this decade of your life, it will be easier to stay in shape in your 30s, 40s and beyond.

1 Push yourself to the limit while getting in shape in your 20s, unless an underlying condition makes it dangerous to do so. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is an ideal workout for the busy schedule that accompanies life in your 20s -- fit in just 20 minutes of intense cardio between a day at work and preparing dinner for the family. Alternate 30 to 60 seconds of sprinting on the track or treadmill with one to two minutes of walking for recovery. HIIT also doesn’t require any equipment, so it’s just right for a gal on a budget. Do it three times a week, recommends “Shape” magazine.

2 Lift heavy weights on a regular basis. Hormones that help build muscle, including growth hormone and testosterone, are more abundant in your 20s, according to Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky of the McMaster University Medical Center in Ontario, making this decade prime for strength training. Pick a weight that is too challenging to do 10 to 15 reps without major effort -- the last four or five reps of a set should be challenging. Aim for 20 minutes of strength training for all major muscle groups at least two to three times per week.

3 Add yoga to your cross-training routine. Soothing a screaming baby and dealing with the pressures of your boss may leave you frazzled. Doing yoga, at least once a week, not only offers the benefits of vital flexibility training, but also calms a frantic mind.

Tip

  • Consume plenty of the nutrients that women in their 20s need for an active, healthy life. This includes calcium. Your bone mass peaks by age 25, according to "Better Home and Garden.” Calcium can be found in dairy products and fortified foods; iron, which is important to reduce your risk of anemia and can be found in many lean red meats; and folic acid, vital if you’re working on having more children. Lentils are a rich source of folic acid. Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned that your diet doesn’t supply you with all the necessary nutrients.

Warning

  • It is easy to push yourself too hard when it comes to exercising in your 20s, as you often feel invincible. The body of a woman in her 20s is often more resilient than an older woman's body, but it's not injury-prone. Give yourself at least one day of rest per week to allow your muscles to repair and grow. If you're just beginning an exercise routine or are significantly overweight or obese, speak to your doctor before beginning a fitness program.

Photo Credits

  • Siri Stafford/Lifesize/Getty Images