How to stay fit over the age of 40

You bend over to blow out the 40 candles on your birthday cake. Suddenly, you feel a sharp twinge in your lower back – a reminder that your knees have been acting up lately. The thought of getting to the gym seems tiring. The reality? To combat the effects of ageing over 40, you need to exercise smart. Here's some advice to help you stay fit so you can age gracefully.

How to stay fit over the age of 40

Fitness over 40 can be a challenge as the body changes and lets you feel your years. Even so, it’s more important than ever to adopt a fitness regimen that suits you, your lifestyle and which enables you to enjoy good health for years to come.

Exercise smart

As your metabolism slows down and your ability to store fat increases, the other challenges of ageing that crop up can include heart disease, bad cholesterol levels, muscle and joint aches, the rising risk of cancer and, for women, bone loss through menopause.

  • While there’s no magic bullet for all the woes of ageing, a smart fitness program can shift the odds in your favour.

Reduce joint jolts

As you age, connective tissue becomes less elastic, putting you at greater risk of joint injuries.

  • While everyone’s body differs, you would be wise to replace high-impact exercises, such as jogging or aerobics, with low-impact ones, which include swimming, walking, cycling, yoga, Pilates or an elliptical training machine.

Care before and after workouts

Proper warm-ups and cool-downs are always important while working out, but even more so after the big 4-0.

  • Warming up will get the blood flowing to muscles, increase joint flexibility, help range of motion and prepare you mentally for the work that lies ahead.
  • Do easy aerobic exercise before intense aerobic exercise. In addition, lift light weights before attempting heavier ones.

Stretching should be reserved for after your workout to keep up flexibility and stretch out the muscles that are contracting because of the exertions of the fitness session.

Give yourself time

You’ll need more time between weights and other exercises to recover your strength and wind, especially if you haven't exercised regularly in years.

  • Proper rests between reps or different exercises will allow you to keep at it longer and reduce your chances of injury.

Adopt a well-rounded plan

Don’t just concentrate on one type of exercise. Yes, you have to stay heart healthy, but you also have to address the other effects of ageing, including shortening muscles and tendons, weakening bones and problems with balance.

  • A well-rounded fitness program should incorporate cardiovascular exercises, strength training, flexibility routines and equilibrium-building exercises.
  • Consult with a fitness expert if you have any doubts. They can provide advice that will help you achieve your fitness goals, and which reduces your risk of injury.

Get the right advice

If you have been sedentary for a long time, don’t just go to the gym and start pushing yourself. Go to your doctor first to get medical clearance. Then consult with a fitness professional, such as a personal trainer, to evaluate your fitness level, set goals and develop a plan.

  • Make sure the fitness plan is reasonable and then stick to it. Regular exercise, rather than guilt-induced bursts of sporadic activity, is best.

If you can make fitness an important part of your life now, then fitness over 50 will be much easier.

N.B.: Always consult a qualified healthcare provider before starting any exercise program, changing your diet or taking supplements of any kind. The general information in this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, instruction or treatment.

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