Staying Fit at 40

Posted by Luisa de Luca on

 

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Turning 40 can hit you before you know it. Helen Rowland, an  English-American writer said, “Life begins at 40 but so do fallen arches, rheumatism, faulty eyesight, and the tendency to tell a story to the same person, three or four times.”  Some changes are just inevitable but some can be controlled or even eliminated.  Genetics play a strong part in what happens to our body but that doesn't mean that we are destined to be the same.  According to WomensHealth.com1:           

Starting in a woman’s 40’s, changes in hormones can cause body fat to accumulate in the abdominal area-turning her body into a more “apple” shape. In addition, there’s a slow decline in muscle mass and BMR (Basal metabolic rate). BMR is a measure of how many calories a body uses in a day. The average person’s free fat weight (all your body’s parts such as muscles and organs, except for fat) burns approximately 60-70% of the daily BMR, with physical activity accounting for 15-30% and the thermic effect of food (the calories burned digesting meals) the remaining 10%.

If we are not willing to make some changes for the better then we should expect changes for the worst.  We all know that some form of regular exercise pays big dividends.  We can turn back time, in a way, by becoming fit and healthier.  The benefits from proper eating and regular exercise are plentiful, some of which include lower risks of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and diabetes.  Exercise lowers blood pressure, keeps the colon functional, fights ‘bad’ cholesterol, and promotes the ‘good’ cholesterol.

If you've never been one for exercise, starting in the middle of your life can be intimidating and difficult. There are so many machines at the gym and exercises to do - where do you start and how do you know what your body is capable of?

According to Prevention Magazine2, a beneficial workout for the over 40 crowd should look something like this:  

 

Consistent Cardio

 

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Participating in an aerobic exercise for 30 minutes at least 5 days a week will strike a huge blow on heart disease.  Your aerobics need not be intense.  Walking, swimming, biking, or jogging are excellent aerobics.  You should work your pace up to a point where you are still able to carry on a conversation - not that you actually need to.

 

Intense Intervals

It makes sense that the more oxygen and blood we get pumping to our brain, the better brain function we have.  Somewhere in our 40’s our memory seems to gradually worsen.  Regular cardio will feed more oxygen and blood to our brain and the forgetfulness can become less a problem.  

Interval workouts consist of interspersing bursts of speed or intensity followed by a period of slower moving or rest. Doing cardio, try intermittent bursts of speed  for 1 minute proceeded by a slower pace of two minutes. Depending on your current level of physical activity, you may want to start out with intervals of only 15 or so seconds and gradually work your way up.

 

Weight  Training

 

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According to Wendy Kohrt, PhD, a professor of geriatric medicine at the University of Colorado Health Sciences2 in Denver, lifting weights is one of the best ways to keep your bones and muscles in peak shape.  When you hear the words ‘lifting weights’ your mind may jump to an image of a bulky guy holding a huge dumbbell over his head but that's not what is called for.  All you need is a set of dumbbells, whatever weight you're comfortable with,  and work up the weight from there.  It's not hard to find different exercises online3 - just take it slowly to ensure you're doing the workouts properly so you don't injure yourself. Just  20 minutes twice a week will do it.  Keep up your cardio for a healthy heart and brain.  Then twice weekly lifting those weights will reward you with happy bones and muscle.

 

Yoga

Tension and stress seem to have become a way of life for most of us.  And you know what follows stress? Wrinkles! Who wants those?  You can fight those purveyors of older age by trying a little yoga 4 times a week for 30 minutes.  There are plenty of yoga workouts to choose from.  Time spent working a yoga program will relieve the tightness of tension.  Pretty soon those wrinkles and creases will soften away.  

After reading the workout details, you may feel like you’ll be  spending hours and hours working out.  Not really so. Take a look at the schedule we found in the Prevention Magazine2, mentioned before.

  • Day One: 30 minutes of cardio, 30 minutes of yoga

  • Day Two: 45 minutes of interval cardio

  • Day Three: 20 minutes of weight training, 30 minutes of yoga
  • Day Four: 30 minutes of cardio, 30 minutes of yoga

  • Day Five: 45 minutes of interval cardio, 20 minutes of weight training

  • Day Six: 30 minutes of cardio, 30 minutes of yoga

  • Day Seven: Rest

 

In addition to fighting the onward march of aging, exercise can bring other advantages to your life. You'll sleep better, get a more firm and trim body, your mood will be enhanced, and your sex life may even improve. All those should make you look and feel much younger.  

 

Sources:

  1. http://womenshealth.com/how-to-be-fit-over-40/
  2. http://www.prevention.com/fitness/fitness-tips/anti-aging-workout-fitness-after-40
  3. http://www.shape.com/fitness/workouts/get-fit-5-minutes-rockstar-arms-workout

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