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Fit-ish: An approach to fitness for every phase of life

Whether you're in your 20s or 60s, you don't have to be obsessed with fitness to live a healthy life. Brenda Braxton learns about the 'fit-ish' approach to wellness.

PORTLAND, Ore. — If you like to exercise but you also like to eat french fries or dessert then you're what we call "fit-ish!" You're trying to be healthy, but you're not obsessed. It's about balance, self compassion, and enjoying life at every age and stage.

This week, KGW launched a series called fit-ish to show you don't have to live in the gym to live a healthy life.

If you've gotten more sedentary over the last year or so, no judgment. Most of us have but it's not too late to move a little more and stress a little less, hence the "ish."

The fit-ish approach to exercise works whether you're a millennial or a senior. We teamed up with Northwest Personal Training in Vancouver to break it down decade-by-decade with tips to help you get started on the fit-ish path.

Fit-ish in your 20s

Gen Z and Millennials are focused on school, or career, or both. Youth is on their side. A lot of them can eat and drink whatever they want without many consequences.

Personal trainer Nate Brown is right in that demo. He's 25 and says this is the decade you can "go hard" in the gym and burpees are his favorite exercise for this age group.

WATCH: Fit-ish: How to embrace fitness in your 20s

He said, "It's high intensity, our bodies can sustain it in our 20s. It's a full body compound. You're getting your heart rate up. It allows the lower body to work. You can add push-ups in there to where the upper body is having to work. Then add some jumping to make your body work in a different direction. You can then progress to single leg exercises so, there's a lot of progressions to it which is the nice thing, especially in our 20s, where we have that ability to do something a little more strenuous."

Nate says your twenties is the time to make exercise a habit-- just like brushing your teeth, do it every day.

He says the biggest mistake 20-somethings make is comparing themselves to others. For instance, don't worry about how much other people at the gym are lifting, you do you! If you don't, you could push too hard and get injured.

Fit-ish in your 30s

As life in your 30s gets busier — raising a family, climbing the career ladder, or doing both — time is at a premium. So, 30-somethings need “exercise efficiencies.”

Trainer Alicia Rose, who’s 30 herself, recommends making the most of your time with combination exercises like a squat with an overhead press.

WATCH: Fit-ish: How to embrace fitness in your 30s

She said, "Exercise efficiency is really, really important for people in their 30s. We want to maximize our muscle gain by adding compound movements. Things that are going to be working multiple muscles at one time. So, legs and upper body and also making sure we're getting our cardiovascular system going. Plyometrics, running in place, things that are gonna get our heart rate up and get our metabolism revving because as you know in our 30s that's when our bodies start to change."

Alicia says 30-something parents can turn play into exercise. It all counts whether you're kicking a soccer ball with your kids, or going "old school" and playing hopscotch. She says that's a great way to improve your agility and balance!

And for 30-somethings without kids, Alicia says be adventurous with your activities. This is the perfect decade to learn something new like silks training, gymnastics, or a dance class. And invite your friends to keep it fun and social.

Fit-ish in your 40s

Staying fit-ish in your 40s presents new challenges. This is the decade women start to lose muscle mass and endurance because of hormonal fluctuations as they age.

And men may be dealing with achy joints or back pain from the wear-and-tear of playing competitive sports back in the day.

So, what to do?

WATCH: Fit-ish: How to embrace fitness in your 40s

Trainer Jamie Hahn, from Northwest Personal Training says for 40-something women strength training is a "must." And even if it's been awhile, no worries.

She said, "The good news is it comes back. Our body remembers. We want to be doing [strength training] two to three times a week, for 20 minutes to 60 minutes. It's important that we stay very consistent with that."

Think two to three sets for all the major muscle groups, and 8 to 15 reps. It revs up your metabolism and protects your bones.

What about minor back pain? That's tricky, but if you're at the point where you sneeze and tweak your back, your tummy muscles may need some work.

"My number one thing I run into with clients is core strength," said Jamie. Her favorite way to get after it? Planks.

Beginners can start simple with just the traditional, static position. But there are all kinds of advanced variations, including hip dips while planking.

Bottom line: If you take small steps each day, one day, you'll get there.

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Fit-ish in your 50s

Sherri McMillan will proudly tell you she's 51. Check out her Instagram, it shows her strong, spirited, active lifestyle.

She founded Northwest Personal Training 21-years ago when she moved to Vancouver, Washington. Fitness is her job but "fit-ish" is her attitude.

WATCH: Fit-ish: How to embrace fitness in your 50s

"I want to look great and I want to feel great but I also want to enjoy life and indulge and have fun with friends and family and just have more balance in my life. I think as you get older you start to recognize that and you're not so hard on yourself anymore and I think that's wonderful," she said with a laugh.

The biggest challenge for women in their 50s? Hormones that are out of whack, which makes it easier to gain weight.

"And they start thinking, 'Oh my God. I need to start exercising more. I need to eat less' and it puts a lot of stress on their bodies which actually elevates their cortisol levels, their stress hormone, and sometimes when we're in our 50s, we actually need to back off a little bit and incorporate more yoga, more mindful movement, more meditation."

Sherri says in your 50s there are physical changes you can't control, like needing reading glasses, but you can control how often you exercise.

"It becomes critically important that we strength train for our muscle mass, for our metabolism, for our bone density. That's true at every decade but definitely as we get into our later years. You've got to maintain that muscle mass. It really, truly is the fountain of youth."

Fit-ish in your 60s and beyond

Hitting the gym at 60-plus has huge mind and body benefits for seniors. And the cool thing about exercise is that it's never too late to start.

Trainer Bob Hoffman said, "Even if you do stop and you've lost some of it, get started again because you can gain it all back!"

At 61-years-old, Bob knows knows what he's talking about. His clients at Northwest Personal Training in Vancouver include two 79-year-olds and two others who are 80.

WATCH: How to embrace fitness in your 60s

Bob also talked about his own fitness journey.

"I stopped being active in my 40s when life got in the way. And I went from being in very good shape to being 230-pounds with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and on medication for both of those. I let myself go."

Today, Bob has done a 180. He's a triathlete running four days a week, biking twice a week, and he's getting back into swimming. He also lifts weights.

"You don't necessarily want to lift heavy anymore but lots of reps and lighter weight. Just keep working. It really, really turned my life around."

He says the most important fit-ish trifecta for seniors is flexibility, balance and posture.

The exercise that focuses on all three is the standing stretch to open-up the arms and chest. A gentle squeeze engages the muscles between the shoulder blades — just don't hunch up. Keep those shoulders down away from your ears. There are a couple ways to modify this stretch. You can lay on the ground with a pillow beneath your head. Or for seniors ready for a bigger challenge-- do this stretch over a balance ball.

And remember, exercising with a partner or group (think dance classes or tennis) adds an important social element.

Bob says, "Having people that you care about, that care about you, that community is really important. Those ties are important for us as we age and help keep us not just healthy physically, but healthy mentally."

Exercising your body and your brain helps keeps seniors, and the rest of us, fit-ish!

WATCH: Sunrise Extra: Talking the 'Fit-ish' lifestyle with NW Personal Training's Sherri McMillan

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