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Lowering exercise intensity with age, what has worked for you?

jarobyjaroby Member Posts: 152 Member Member Posts: 152 Member
For starters, please bear with me as it will probably take more than one shot to figure out exactly what it is I have a question about, but here’s the first attempt:

I’m interested in reducing the intensity of my exercise without compromising the mood boost I get from a nice, hard workout.

I can deal with having to reduce my calories in order to maintain my weight loss goals, but I will have a harder time not getting that “endorphin kick” (assuming science backs that up and that’s really why I feel so great after a sweaty workout).

I’m curious about other people’s experiences with this.
Have you done it?
What did you switch from/to?
Might I ask why you made the switch?


Does anyone have ideas of what I can start switching out or outright changing in my schedule? And I realize that it’s a hard question for others answer for my specific situation without knowing what I’m doing in the first place and why I would want to reduce. So, here’s some of that info in case it’s helpful for generating ideas? :)

I’m 32, I’ve had 3 kids, I’ve been a home exerciser for years since that’s what’s works best for my husbands work schedule/kids wake up times etc. I think I want to start lowering the intensity because our current life stage demands that workouts be done before the kids are up and my body just doesn’t love that anymore. I’ve been making low impact modifications on cardio days for a while now but I think, based on how I feel, more changes need to be made.

Maybe this is helpful info too? Idk, I always feel sort of bad asking for help on the interwebs because of the lack of context for those kind enough to offer the help. I’ll try to provide a little context without typing a novel.

I used to be a runner but switched to strength training with dumbbells (3x) + body weight cardio exercises(2x) years ago. I fell in love with lifting and although I only have dumbbells (3-40lbs) we do hope to buy a bar and plates at some point but it might be a bit as the demand for them is high right now so the prices aren’t within our affordable range.

I wonder if I start reducing my 2x a week cardio down to pure low impact (I’ve been making modifications as needed but I’m considering just throwing them out entirely and going for a brisk walk in the early am on these days) if that will be “enough”? (For help with mood) maybe I’ll just have to try it out for a bit and see if my body adapts haha
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Replies

  • spiriteagle99spiriteagle99 Member Posts: 3,206 Member Member Posts: 3,206 Member
    I think everybody is going to be different. For me, at 63, I need about an hour of fairly strenuous exercise in order to see an impact on my mood. A short walk doesn't do it at all; I need a good run or a real hike or an hour on the bike in order to stave off the blues. I notice the difference on rest days or ones where my cross-training is less strenuous, which is why I run 5+ days a week.
  • ChieflrgChieflrg Member Posts: 9,049 Member Member Posts: 9,049 Member
    I think your line of thinking is reasonable.

    I do feel resistance training 3x per week is a bare minimum to keep driving progress for a longer time.

    Maybe add a day(s) so you can complete the dosage for the week.

    Yes you can cut higher intensity cardio down but generally I would add a bit more time at LISS . Really depends on intensity and how long you plan on average per week.

    Of course all with proper load management.
    edited September 2020
  • Suuzanne37Suuzanne37 Member, Premium Posts: 114 Member Member, Premium Posts: 114 Member
    As mentioned above; everyone is different but in my opinion, it’s best practice to do the following as minimum (if you have no health or mobility issues that limit exercise).

    1. Walk as much as you can.
    2. Strength train at least 2 plus times per week.
    3. Yoga etc.
    4. Two plus 30 minutes cardio sessions per week.
  • jarobyjaroby Member Posts: 152 Member Member Posts: 152 Member
    dewd2 wrote: »
    At what age does this forced lowering start? I'm 51 and still trying (and doing) newer and harder things.

    Your body slows down but you don't have to (assuming your circumstances allow of course - family is first always).
    GL458 wrote: »
    Why do you want to reduce the intensity at 32? Like previous posters, I understand time constraints with three kids but when I first looked at your post I thought you must be much older. I'm 63, female and a runner. I haven't really thought about reducing the intensity although the intensity may be reduced somewhat without my actually noticing it. I run about 40 miles a week. Is it intensity or time spent exercising that you actually want to change?

    Ha! I thought that my post title might cause people to consider me older than 32, and I didn’t know if I could change it without starting an entirely new thread. :smiley:

    So, I like to push myself *hard* while working out and I didn’t want to write a novel when explaining my dilemma, but lately I just feel achy all over after a higher intensity cardio workout, it’s a different soreness than doms. My joins feel achy and my back feels off. It’s been a few months of this, I’m certain I’m not pregnant, and when I reduce the intensity and focus on low impact exercises I don’t have the all over achy pain after a hard workout. Lifting weights doesn’t produce the achy feeling.

    The above situation coupled with a specific low back tightness/pain which I’m currently seeking physical therapy for to help me identify the “why” and “how to fix” has made me consider that my current routine might not be sustainable for as long as I had hoped. I truly had hoped to just keep going and pushing myself hard for years to come!

    When I need to change things up like this it’s really helpful for me to learn about others experiences and gather ideas to see what can be adapted to my situation, so I decided to make a post and I can see I need to clarify so thanks for bearing with me :smile:

    The other aspect of this is that when I’m able to workout later in the day I don’t have as many problems, but I’m a homeschool mom so for the foreseeable future I need to make things work in the early am or run a pretty high risk of a workout not happening. There will come a time when the kids are older that I can be more flexible with my desired routine, but for now this is what I’ve got :smiley:

    Thank you so much for your replies!
  • jarobyjaroby Member Posts: 152 Member Member Posts: 152 Member
    Thank you all so much for your encouragement and replies in helping me figure this out!! I’ll be back on to reply more, I got excited about all the responses but don’t have the time to reply all at once even though I’ve got questions and clarifications :smiley:
  • steph6556steph6556 Member Posts: 575 Member Member Posts: 575 Member
    @jaroby , I’m a former homeschooling mom too! The last one is 16 so she doesn’t “ need me “ anymore in terms of schooling, taking jr. College classes. I remember those days and I’m just like you in terms of feeling the intensity in my joints and back, which is why I cut way back on intensity. Just as an update though, I actually prefer my body at this 150 ( more muscular ) state than at the 140 state where I was super lean. I think you can accomplish your goals of staying very fit while chilling out on how hard you push! Keep up the awesome work,mom!!!
  • lorrpblorrpb Member Posts: 11,465 Member Member Posts: 11,465 Member
    Sure, modify cardio To low impact and reduce the length. If you’ve been doing an hour, try doing 50 minutes. On strength training, reduce load Or reps by 5-10%. Or give yourself an additional rest day each week, perhaps with walking if yoga.
    I agree with other thoughts that at 32 You don’t Need to decrease exercise due to “age”. At 65 I’m trying to increase my exercise intensity and duration.
  • jarobyjaroby Member Posts: 152 Member Member Posts: 152 Member
    steph6556 wrote: »
    @jaroby , I’m a former homeschooling mom too! The last one is 16 so she doesn’t “ need me “ anymore in terms of schooling, taking jr. College classes. I remember those days and I’m just like you in terms of feeling the intensity in my joints and back, which is why I cut way back on intensity. Just as an update though, I actually prefer my body at this 150 ( more muscular ) state than at the 140 state where I was super lean. I think you can accomplish your goals of staying very fit while chilling out on how hard you push! Keep up the awesome work,mom!!!

    For real, thank you SO much for the encouragement!! I love seeing confirmation that there really will be a time when the kids need me less (directly) and I can mix my routine to better suit where I’m at. And yeah, my weight goals are super flexible at this point. I’m going for getting rid of obvious excess body fat and then we’ll see from there how much more I try for but my guess is I’ll be thrilled to be there and will enjoy pushing myself to get stronger right from where I’m at.
  • jarobyjaroby Member Posts: 152 Member Member Posts: 152 Member
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    jaroby wrote: »
    dewd2 wrote: »
    At what age does this forced lowering start? I'm 51 and still trying (and doing) newer and harder things.

    Your body slows down but you don't have to (assuming your circumstances allow of course - family is first always).
    GL458 wrote: »
    Why do you want to reduce the intensity at 32? Like previous posters, I understand time constraints with three kids but when I first looked at your post I thought you must be much older. I'm 63, female and a runner. I haven't really thought about reducing the intensity although the intensity may be reduced somewhat without my actually noticing it. I run about 40 miles a week. Is it intensity or time spent exercising that you actually want to change?

    Ha! I thought that my post title might cause people to consider me older than 32, and I didn’t know if I could change it without starting an entirely new thread. :smiley:

    So, I like to push myself *hard* while working out and I didn’t want to write a novel when explaining my dilemma, but lately I just feel achy all over after a higher intensity cardio workout, it’s a different soreness than doms. My joins feel achy and my back feels off. It’s been a few months of this, I’m certain I’m not pregnant, and when I reduce the intensity and focus on low impact exercises I don’t have the all over achy pain after a hard workout. Lifting weights doesn’t produce the achy feeling.

    The above situation coupled with a specific low back tightness/pain which I’m currently seeking physical therapy for to help me identify the “why” and “how to fix” has made me consider that my current routine might not be sustainable for as long as I had hoped. I truly had hoped to just keep going and pushing myself hard for years to come!

    When I need to change things up like this it’s really helpful for me to learn about others experiences and gather ideas to see what can be adapted to my situation, so I decided to make a post and I can see I need to clarify so thanks for bearing with me :smile:

    The other aspect of this is that when I’m able to workout later in the day I don’t have as many problems, but I’m a homeschool mom so for the foreseeable future I need to make things work in the early am or run a pretty high risk of a workout not happening. There will come a time when the kids are older that I can be more flexible with my desired routine, but for now this is what I’ve got :smiley:

    Thank you so much for your replies!

    WIth the symptoms you report, have you taken a good, really hard, detailed look at your nutrition? Your health markers (blood tests, etc.)? (Re-)considered timing of various types of workouts from a recovery standpoint?

    The symptoms you report don't really seem like an age thing, to me (and not just because I'm literally twice your age, at 64). The symptoms you report seem more like what I experience when:

    * my nutrition isn't ideally on point (right down to the micros),
    * my thyroid hormone dosage needs adjustment,
    * I'm not doing sleep or recovery well,
    * my hydration (maybe even electrolytes in context of hydration) isn't ideal,
    * my cumulative (all-source, physical and psychological) stress level is getting too high,
    * I'm letting a little too much alcohol into my life (not talking fall-down drunk, but just that drink or two, a little more often than my body wants it to be, given whatever all else is going on in my life),
    * I'm not doing the self-massage, conditioning, stretching, etc., that's best for me,
    * . . . or some combination of these and similar things.


    I don't find I'm struggling much more with intensity per se as I age (so far), or even with volume (if I work my way up to the intensity or volume in a sensible way, after any hiatus).

    What I do find - and this may just be me, I dunno - is that I age, I'm less resilient to screwing up things on the list above, including combinations of them: That getting myself out on thin ice is much riskier, and has worse consequences, because I don't bounce back like I did when I was age 20.

    Since you report time of day as a variable, I'm wondering whether sleep schedule, or nutrient timing, may figure in this, in some way, more specifically, too. Me, I'm not a morning person, so realistically AM workouts are going to go less well for me, generally. But, from experience, I know I can make that effect *substantially* worse if I reach that morning workout by getting up earlier while still going to bed late, trying to work out fasted (works for some, doom for me), etc.

    I hope you're able to figure out what the issue is, or find workouts that achieve what you're looking for in your current context. But I'm with the other older people who've replied: Doesn't sound like age, to me.

    2 things.

    1. That list is a humble *reality check* for me. yikes!
    2. I am SO thankful you took the time to bring up those variables. Because my form hadn’t changed, my time exercising hadn’t changed (30-50mins), + I was feeling as described above...I couldn’t figure out the possible reasons why so I just landed on age as the possible differentiating factor. Hallelujah! I am so thrilled that age is likely not the culprit!!

    About that list...I’ll need to play with nutrient timing and even macro amounts. I’ll confess to making effort at hitting protein goals but lately I consider it a win to just hit calorie goals. It’s always my *hope* to be detailed about such things but sometimes I have to set my ideals aside and focus on what I can accomplish (we all need to do that a bit sometimes, yeah? :smiley: ) but to have that in the back of my mind that nutrition timing and specifics could be affecting this recovery/intensity level is awesome. I consider myself to be fairly self aware but I feel like it would have taken me a bit longer than normal to make this specific connection. I also really like how you clarified the way you’ve noticed age playing a role in you being less resilient to screwing things up on the list. YES. I mean, clearly I need to play around with these factors to truly “prove” the case but that just seems so stinkin’ logical. I was sort of right that age was playing a role (many things May have to be well in line for me to feel my best and I as I get older I may notice it more if I’m off), I was wrong about the way age was impacting things but to drat the correlation that I could be becoming more sensitive to thing like this not being optimal is just...it’s what I needed to “hear.”

    -I have been staying up way too late. Busted!!! Totally, 100% I can guarantee that it’s playing a role here even though I clearly didn’t make that connection. :smiley:

    -I’ve been slacking on conditioning/stretching compared to a few months prior.

    -I’ve also been slacking on drinking the amount of water daily that helps me feel my best.

    -With the school year starting up you bet my stress levels have risen from the more relaxed days of summer + we’re in process of figuring out some decently important life decisions right now (husbands job needs to change, want to buy a farm... :wink:)

    -I noticed a few years ago that even the occasional glass of wine or whisky old fashioned would disrupt my sleep so I’m with you on paying attention to that! I’ve got to really want it or be on vacation in order to decide to drink even a glass or two.

    Goodness.
    Thank you. Truly, I can work with this concept and it gives me a lot of hope.
  • Dogmom1978Dogmom1978 Member Posts: 1,587 Member Member Posts: 1,587 Member
    jaroby wrote: »
    dewd2 wrote: »
    At what age does this forced lowering start? I'm 51 and still trying (and doing) newer and harder things.

    Your body slows down but you don't have to (assuming your circumstances allow of course - family is first always).
    GL458 wrote: »
    Why do you want to reduce the intensity at 32? Like previous posters, I understand time constraints with three kids but when I first looked at your post I thought you must be much older. I'm 63, female and a runner. I haven't really thought about reducing the intensity although the intensity may be reduced somewhat without my actually noticing it. I run about 40 miles a week. Is it intensity or time spent exercising that you actually want to change?

    Ha! I thought that my post title might cause people to consider me older than 32, and I didn’t know if I could change it without starting an entirely new thread. :smiley:

    So, I like to push myself *hard* while working out and I didn’t want to write a novel when explaining my dilemma, but lately I just feel achy all over after a higher intensity cardio workout, it’s a different soreness than doms. My joins feel achy and my back feels off. It’s been a few months of this, I’m certain I’m not pregnant, and when I reduce the intensity and focus on low impact exercises I don’t have the all over achy pain after a hard workout. Lifting weights doesn’t produce the achy feeling.

    The above situation coupled with a specific low back tightness/pain which I’m currently seeking physical therapy for to help me identify the “why” and “how to fix” has made me consider that my current routine might not be sustainable for as long as I had hoped. I truly had hoped to just keep going and pushing myself hard for years to come!

    When I need to change things up like this it’s really helpful for me to learn about others experiences and gather ideas to see what can be adapted to my situation, so I decided to make a post and I can see I need to clarify so thanks for bearing with me :smile:

    The other aspect of this is that when I’m able to workout later in the day I don’t have as many problems, but I’m a homeschool mom so for the foreseeable future I need to make things work in the early am or run a pretty high risk of a workout not happening. There will come a time when the kids are older that I can be more flexible with my desired routine, but for now this is what I’ve got :smiley:

    Thank you so much for your replies!

    Considering the back pain, that might be from your form. Not exactly sure what exercises you do, but rounding your back during a deadlift for example can result in serious back injury.

    I don’t know that the intensity is necessarily what is causing your issues. If time constraints are causing you to slow down fine, but saying at 32 that the exercise is too intense because of back pain sounds like you are doing something incorrectly, not that exercising itself combined with age is the issue.
  • jarobyjaroby Member Posts: 152 Member Member Posts: 152 Member
    Dogmom1978 wrote: »
    jaroby wrote: »
    dewd2 wrote: »
    At what age does this forced lowering start? I'm 51 and still trying (and doing) newer and harder things.

    Your body slows down but you don't have to (assuming your circumstances allow of course - family is first always).
    GL458 wrote: »
    Why do you want to reduce the intensity at 32? Like previous posters, I understand time constraints with three kids but when I first looked at your post I thought you must be much older. I'm 63, female and a runner. I haven't really thought about reducing the intensity although the intensity may be reduced somewhat without my actually noticing it. I run about 40 miles a week. Is it intensity or time spent exercising that you actually want to change?

    Ha! I thought that my post title might cause people to consider me older than 32, and I didn’t know if I could change it without starting an entirely new thread. :smiley:

    So, I like to push myself *hard* while working out and I didn’t want to write a novel when explaining my dilemma, but lately I just feel achy all over after a higher intensity cardio workout, it’s a different soreness than doms. My joins feel achy and my back feels off. It’s been a few months of this, I’m certain I’m not pregnant, and when I reduce the intensity and focus on low impact exercises I don’t have the all over achy pain after a hard workout. Lifting weights doesn’t produce the achy feeling.

    The above situation coupled with a specific low back tightness/pain which I’m currently seeking physical therapy for to help me identify the “why” and “how to fix” has made me consider that my current routine might not be sustainable for as long as I had hoped. I truly had hoped to just keep going and pushing myself hard for years to come!

    When I need to change things up like this it’s really helpful for me to learn about others experiences and gather ideas to see what can be adapted to my situation, so I decided to make a post and I can see I need to clarify so thanks for bearing with me :smile:

    The other aspect of this is that when I’m able to workout later in the day I don’t have as many problems, but I’m a homeschool mom so for the foreseeable future I need to make things work in the early am or run a pretty high risk of a workout not happening. There will come a time when the kids are older that I can be more flexible with my desired routine, but for now this is what I’ve got :smiley:

    Thank you so much for your replies!

    Considering the back pain, that might be from your form. Not exactly sure what exercises you do, but rounding your back during a deadlift for example can result in serious back injury.

    I don’t know that the intensity is necessarily what is causing your issues. If time constraints are causing you to slow down fine, but saying at 32 that the exercise is too intense because of back pain sounds like you are doing something incorrectly, not that exercising itself combined with age is the issue.

    Thanks for this :smile: I know that form can sometimes be an issue, but I’ve taken several measures to make sure that this isn’t the case for this specific back problem. I have a mirror for real time reference, I’ve gradually worked my way up from body weight to weighted moves and many of these moves were taught to me in a coached environment back in highschool plus I’ve had 2 personal trainer friends review my form. I grew up with both of my parents lifting down in our basement so although I’m not an expert by any means, I also know I’m not a novice and have had a few professionals review for confirmation.

    One of the friends I’ve mentioned who has reviewed my form will sometimes refer her clients to a posture restoration therapist in the area because of her personal experience with this type of pt plus the results she’s seen in clients. After talking through the specifics of the issue I’m having we both agree that it seems to stem from lifting with things out of alignment (even with externally visible proper form). When I stretch and help my hips and supporting muscles be properly aligned (not always a given even if do the stretches) I don’t have this specific back issue that I mentioned seeking pt for.

    I appreciate the comment though!! Again, it’s so hard to provide all the context necessary when asking for advice like this so I totally don’t blame you for bringing it up!!
  • SnifterPugSnifterPug Member Posts: 724 Member Member Posts: 724 Member
    You said it's been a few months of this. Hello lockdown! Whether or not you are feeling directly stressed due to the pandemic situation I would bet my bottom dollar it is adding to your stress levels. And one of the points AnnPT77 made is the cumulative effect of all source stressors. She's also identified other potential causes (most, if not all, of which are also stressors).

    At 32 it is inconceivable that it's an age thing and my worry is that if you start thinking along those lines now, what the heck are you going to do when you're in your fifties/sixties and beyond and have fewer family responsibilities, freeing up all that lovely time to exercise? I discovered exercise in my late forties and have never looked back.

    In terms of the high, I used to find that I got the best high from a sweaty workout at high intensity. I guess I still do, but I also used to find that I got no discernible high from a slower, gentler cardio session, or from a slow, grinding weights session. That has changed for me as I have set myself certain tough (for me) goals and then made slow progress towards them. In my case that's being able to do push ups with good form (nearly there now) and pull ups. Earlier it was being able to do a body weight Turkish Get Up. These have taken me months/years of work but the focus has enabled me to derive a high from making some obvious progress and even if a session does not go well I can look back at how far I've come and derive pleasure from that. Cardio-wise I've been working up the stamina to manage 12 full rounds on the heavy bag, which I can now do.

    Once you've addressed the other issues maybe thinking of some goals to work at may get you in the right head space to enjoy the times when you do something less strenuous?
  • dmkoenigdmkoenig Member Posts: 295 Member Member Posts: 295 Member
    To be clear, there are 2 basic exercise workout parameters you can play with: volume and intensity. Volume is made up of two dimensions, frequency (how many workouts/week) and duration (how long each workout is. Intensity is how hard you are working. Often times, when you have a young family there are competing priorities for your time and so you need to cut back on workout volume. Interestingly enough as you age, of the two, Intensity becomes increasingly important in terms of maintaining fitness. Studies have shown that older athletes just doing long slow fitness, while important for building endurance, does not do much for overall fitness, as measured by your body's ability to use oxygen when producing high levels of power. The takeaway is that you can keep plenty fit through appropriate use of HIIT workouts, interval training, weight training with higher load without having to put long workout hours in. Not to say that low intensity or longer workouts don't have a place (i.e. for aerobic benefits and mind clearing), but if you need to cut back volume make sure you keep a couple of higher Intensity workouts in your program. Chronologically, you are way young, I'm twice your age - 32 is prime endurance age - so you have a ways to go before you need to think about building in additional recovery (that's a 50+ year old conversation). Regardless, workouts like HIIT do require some recovery so 2-3x/week is as much as you want to redline in that way.
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