Millennials’ Fitness Goals and Health Needs: Differences Between Your 20s versus 30s versus 40s

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By: Melissa Schenkman, MPH, MSJ

Brittany Noelle has been an athlete her entire life. 

Between suffering from her own sports-related injuries, watching her dad suffer from injuries, and seeing her mom live with autoimmune disease, she became interested in learning about the body—anatomy and physiology—from a young age. 

Her goal: helping people move better and most importantly, move pain free. 

Brittany Noelle is the  is a certified personal trainer and ACE Health Coach. She is the owner of Brittany Noelle Fitness, a company that crafts personal training programs to fit clients’ unique needs.

It was not knowing how to do this or getting answers on what to do to be pain free as an athlete from her own coaches and therapists that frustrated her greatly. After competing in Track and Field as a member of the University of California, Los Angeles, Bruins she got into weight training. It was there that she found her calling and the answers to help herself and others.

“I loved that I was able to help people feel better, get more confident, and stronger,” Noelle said.  Once I started seeing the results of helping people, it inspired me to keep going and spread my knowledge to all different generations.”

Now, a personal trainer for over a decade she has found distinct differences between the challenges, fitness goals, and health needs of her millennial clients—those in their 20s versus their 30s versus their 40s. She shares with us what she has learned, providing us with key takeaways to understand the context behind fitness experiences for each part of the millennial-age spectrum. 

Exercise in Your 20s

When Noelle reflects back on her early 20s, she remembers it being a time when you’re still trying to figure things out—how to go about your work life and dating. Speaking from experience, she loves being able to mentor people in their 20s and take on a big sister role with them in explaining how your body will change and be a little different.

She finds it particularly rewarding to help those in their 20s to develop confidence in their appearance, fitness, and as people. So along with her workouts, she makes sure to instill in them the importance of body acceptance—how your body is already great the way it is. She also teaches them to not to fall into the social media pressures. 

“A really big part of what I do is helping to inspire confidence and to just give my ladies the correct information early on,” Noelle said.  “It’s really great to be able to teach them about their eating habits and how not to fall into diet culture as well.”

In your 20s you have the added bonuses of having more time to spend working out and a body that can recover quicker, Noelle said. 

If your main goal is to lose weight, then working out with the schedule outlined below will get results. You will want to focus on weight training because it will help you build muscle which will result in higher fat loss, an increased metabolism. Cardio while important, only gives cardio benefits. For example, if you want to lose more than 10 pounds, you will need to gain over 5 pounds of muscle. 

Exercise in Your 30s

For women in their 30s, she finds it’s a very different type of energy. Now, 32-years-old herself, she understands that for women in their 30s, your body changes from your 20s and that things are not as easy now.  I understand that it’s not as easy now to stay fit, and your body has changed from your 20s.

Some clients are moms now and working jobs outside the home. So, Noelle helps them figure out how to develop a routine to stay fit while life is happening. 

“In your 30s you don’t have as much time as you did in your 20s to do an hour-long or two-hour long workout. So now we’re talking about how can we make this efficient in 30 minutes. How can we change our eating habits?” Noelle said 

For this reason, Noelle recommends three full-body weight training days that can be easily fit into a busy schedule. This is a more achievable goal with a busy schedule then trying to force 4 days and feeling disappointed. 

Note full body workout days mean: upper, lower, and core, focusing on compound movements that are more time efficient. Think 20-30 minutes.

The two additional days should be spent doing a fun cardio based activity or mobility workout. This will allow for time to connect with activities that you use to do in your 20s and that were enjoyable.

Also, remember that women in their 30s are going through hormonal changes, so they may benefit from more recovery days, Noelle says. 

Exercise in Your 40s

Exercise priorities shift from your 30s to your 40s shift to people wanting to exercise for its overall better health benefits and to develop a routine.

Noelle’s 40-year-old ladies are all about just keeping it moving. She loves being around them because their mindset is ‘I’m still young and have so much of my life ahead of me.’

“It’s so nice to watch my 40-year-old-ladies transition now from wanting less aesthetics to you wanting to be more pain free,” Noelle said. 

At this stage in life, weight training is important to maintain bone health and muscular strength. There should also be a focus on maintaining balance, flexibility, and core work on non-weight training days.

For this reason, Noelle recommends doing 2-3 days of weight training and  4-5 days a week dedicated to keeping active with a low-impact activities.

Regardless of a client’s age, Noelle has had some had really great experiences at all the different ends of the millennial age spectrum. 

“I love the different ways of teaching and coaching that I’m able to provide to fit with these different lifestyles at different check points.”

Visit this page to learn more from Brittany Noelle on how to maintain your fitness with your on-the-go schedule.

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