Believe it or not, exercising in your 20s isn’t just effective for staying trim and energetic while you go out and conquer the world. It is about so much more than losing weight. Exercise is one of the under-utilized keys to living a healthier, happier life in your 30s and beyond. While you’re making big life decisions about your career, love-life, and goals, the simple act of developing a workout routine can pay some amazing dividends in your future.
We know working out can feel like a hassle, but here are 9 key benefits. If you are beginning an exercise routine, starting with 30 minutes of cardio every day can make a significant impact.
1. Establishing a Personal Routine
For many women in their 20s, they’re working the hardest they’ve ever worked and will likely move to more sedentary roles as they grow in their careers. Because of this, your 20s can be one of the busiest seasons of life. During your 20s you may also find yourself surrounded by a sea of friends, family members, co-workers, and acquaintances, and have a bustling social life.
Developing a workout regimen that fits your busy schedule in your 20s may mean squeezing in exercise in the final sliver of time you have left in your day. If you make a habit of exercising when your schedule is packed, it’s easier to maintain your workout habit in later stages of life.
Pto-tip: Daily 30-minute walks are an excellent way to establish a personal workout routine. Invite a friend and let your exercise overlap with your social life.
2. Manage your weight
Regular, high-energy exercise can help prevent weight gain and maintain a healthy body. The more intense the exercise, the more calories you burn. Even if you don’t have blocks of time during your day to exercise, remember, even a little bit of time spent exercising is better than no time at all! Find small pockets of time and spend it in some level of activity—take a short walk over your lunch break, walk to the corner store instead of driving, or do arm curls with weights while watching your favorite show!
Pro-tip: Interval training burns more calories to help you lose weight. Whether you walk, run, dance, or do another cardio exercise, increase your pace for a minute or two then decrease your pace for another 2 to 4 minutes. Repeat the intervals throughout your workout.
3. More energy during the day
Regular exercise helps deliver oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and improves your cardiovascular function. These unseen improvements boost your muscle strength and endurance, giving you more energy to tackle everyday tasks.
Pro-tip: Cycling is a challenging and fun activity that increases energy levels. No matter your fitness level or preference, most spin classes and outdoor cycling paths are likely to have routes that you’ll enjoy!
4. Get better sleep
Off the cuff, exercise wears you out. According to the Sleep Foundation, exercise triggers an increase in body temperature, and the post-exercise drop in temperature can help you fall asleep faster and get deeper, better quality sleep. Exercise can also decrease anxiety and depressive symptoms giving you a clearer head to fall asleep. Make sure you don’t exercise too close to bedtime or you may be too energized to fall asleep!
Pro-tip: Yoga is an extremely challenging form of exercise, but it’s also versatile and can be tailored to your personal fitness level. Spend 30 minutes doing yoga on evenings and stick to calming music and breathing patterns. This form of exercise is very effective at promoting peace and better sleep!
5. Lower chronic disease and cancer risk
Approximately 12% of women will develop invasive breast cancer over her lifetime. For women who exercise 1-3 hours a week, there’s a 20%-30% decreased risk for developing breast cancer.
Pro-tip: Most forms of exercise can lower the risk of cancer, but stretching and balance exercises can be especially helpful for encouraging better blood flow around the body to oxygenate tissues, keep your body functioning properly, and helping fight disease.
6. Cardiovascular health
Working out in your 20s is linked to better heart health over the following decades. A study in the JAMA Internal Medicine recorded the results captured when research participants took a fitness test and were followed up with over the years. Researchers found that performance on the treadmill test was a good prediction of heart health later in life. Every additional minute the participant handled on the treadmill was linked to a 12 percent lower risk of heart disease and a 15 percent lower risk of dying during the time of the study.
Pro-tip: We recommend swimming to support cardiovascular health; swimming effectively engages nearly every part of your body, getting your limbs moving, your core engaged, your lungs stronger, and your heart pumping. It’s an effective option for improving blood and oxygen flow around the body and resulting in a stronger cardiovascular function over time. Find a local pool and commit to a few laps multiple times a week!
7. Glowing skin
Regular exercise can increase your body's production of natural antioxidants, which help protect your skin cells. Additionally, exercise stimulates blood flow and the pulling away of toxins in the skin. Over time, exercise prompts skin cell adaptations that can help delay the appearance of skin aging.
Plus, more often than not, your skin naturally glows after a good workout.
Pro-tip: Early morning or late evening jogs/runs are ideal for staying safe from the harsh sun rays, getting vitamin D which improves skin health, and getting that glowing skin we all want.
8. Improve mental acuity over time
Exercise increases your heart rate, promoting blood flow around your body, and oxygenates your brain. Working out can also stimulate the production of hormones that enhances the growth of brain cells. The result is simple: Improved brain function, memory, and thinking skills.
According to Healthline, physical activity has been shown to reduce changes in the brain that directly cause Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia as you age.
Pro-tip: Rock-climbing is a fun and engaging mental challenge—oh, and it challenges you physically as well! This is a great exercise option for working out the puzzle of how to climb an intricate rock face and it teaches your muscles to work together to safely complete a tough task.
9. Happiness in your 30s and beyond
Exercise releases endorphins that boost energy levels and is directly correlated with lower incidences of depression. Not only does exercising support a better mood long term and lower depression, but in many exercise settings, social interaction is natural and easy. For many people, working out in a public gym can encourage friendships, positive affirmations among gym-mates, and positive social reinforcement. So not only does developing an exercise routine in your 20s encourage improved moods over the years, but continued exercise beyond your 20s can encourage a sense of long-term happiness.
Pro-tip: For most people, dancing is euphoric and fun, and it comes with the added benefit of releasing endorphins. Activities like dance-fit classes often result in improved moods and opportunities to meet other people and develop new friendships.
Whether you’re in your 20s or older, developing healthy exercise habits will improve your quality of life and your happiness in your 30s and beyond. We recommend consulting a doctor or professional trainer to ensure you are incorporating safe exercise and nutrition habits for your particular body. Be sure to establish a routine that you can maintain over the years and that makes you feel happier, healthier, and more confident. Remember that this routine doesn’t mean you are doing the same workout everyday - create variety in your routine to avoid burn-out. Listen to your body!