It’s easy to fall into a workout rut in your 40s. Busy schedules and the demands of life — family, work, finances — make it more difficult to maintain usual fitness habits. Yet, it is a big mistake to put your feet up and stop being active in your 40s.
“Turning 40 is the time when the body is going through a series of changes such as a slower metabolism, muscle loss, weight gain and reduced bone strength,” says Olga Hays, an American Council on Exercise-certified wellness promotion specialist at Sharp HealthCare. “If we do nothing to counteract this decline in fitness, we are at a greater risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, stroke and even some types of cancer.”
“The good news is that most of these changes are preventable and can be significantly improved by incorporating strength training, flexibility training and aerobic training into your routine,” explains Hays.
Regular strength training is a must for anyone over 40. Strength training can replace lost muscle, raise metabolism, decrease risk of falls, provide relief from joint pain, and help maintain a healthy weight.
Fitness experts recommend strength training two or more days a week, with exercises that work all major muscle groups, such as the legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms.
When we engage in a weight-training routine, moderation is the key. You should start with low weights and stretch before, during and after your workouts. Proper warmup and stretches are especially important to avoid injuries because we are more prone to them due to reduced bone density. You should also remember to give your body ample time for recovery, as well as the balanced nourishment to help build your muscles and strength.
As we get older, our tendons and muscles tend to get tight and stiff, which leads to an increased risk of injury. Stiff muscles also make it difficult to stay active and engage in our favorite physical activities. Regular flexibility exercises, such as yoga, Pilates, foam rolling or simple stretches throughout your day, can prevent injuries, improve your balance, keep your body limber and allow you to do everyday tasks, such as bending and reaching with ease.
Regular aerobic activity, such as walking, bicycling or swimming, can help you live longer and healthier. Thirty minutes of aerobic activity, five times a week, strengthens your heart and lungs, helps lower cholesterol, reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes, improves immune function and lowers blood pressure.
“And let’s not forget about food,” adds Hays. “Good nutrition is an important component of staying fit in your 40s and beyond. Make sure to have a nutritional game plan and supplement your exercise routine with a balanced diet.”
“When it comes to health and fitness, our 40s is the time to be proactive, as we can no longer rely on our body’s natural ability to bounce back, keep our weight in a happy place or recover easily,” says Hays. “Exercising regularly and nourishing your body properly offer an effective health-boosting strategy to maintain your fitness and well-being so you can enjoy your 40s and beyond in good health.”
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