There are many enjoyable aspects of life over the age of 40: continuing to see your children grow and thrive, successes at work, and maintaining your health in order to live a life full of great experiences. The benefits of exercise and getting and staying fit after 40 are considerable.
Studies have shown that an exercise routine can reduce* the risk of diabetes and heart disease, help you sleep better* at night, shed pounds (and keep them off), and make you look and feel younger. Who doesn’t want that?
Aging doesn’t have to mean the end of staying fit – use your next birthday to signify an opportunity to get in the best shape of your life! People will act in disbelief when you tell them your age.
These are the top 10 adjustments that should be made to your fitness routine after turning 40.
1. Focus on Flexibility
As we age our bodies tend to have less* elasticity – and that usually rears its head around the big 4-0. There are many different options that help flexibility, some of which are active workouts, and some of which are therapeutics – yoga, tai chi, A.R.T., deep tissue massage, Raston, etc.
I like to mix up different options every day, some before workouts, some after workouts, and some as stand-alone activities themselves. I personally like to suggest that people get into a constant and consistent practice of whatever they prefer in this respect – for example, if you are going to take up Yoga, I suggest doing 3X a week on non-consecutive days.
Conversely, if you are already one of the people that is extremely active… you would want to make sure you are using mobility techniques (listed below) as part of your daily pre-workout and post-workout program so that you can mitigate soreness and inflammation that will allow you to be able to perform the yoga or recovery activity on opposing days with full ranges of motion.
2. Back to the Basics
People tend to abandon the basic lifting modalities as they get older – this is, in fact, the opposite of what needs to happen. Osteoporosis is a slow process, and one of the ways to combat the early onset is by big “hinge and bend” strength movements.
So do not stop* squatting, and if you haven’t ever learned the proper technique, now is the time to start! Bear in mind that you don’t have to do squats heavily in order to the get the benefit. You can even use squat machines.
3. A-B your workouts
Different days should have different demands (just like in your personal and professional life.)
Typically at the age of 40+, with the stresses of life just getting to exercise at all is a big deal, when do you find the time; when do you get the energy; and what do you do when you get there – so it is important that your workout routine gives you both the release that you need and the restorative properties you need to heal.
This is why it is important to vary your workout daily. I prefer that the schedule be in an “A-B” format. Any “A” day would be your more intense day and would involve your strength training component, big central nervous system activation, and things like cycling class, or sprints or any high-intensity cardio.
Your “B” day would be a day that is active recovery like walking, yoga, or a leisurely active sport. This kind of programming will actually speed recovery time and still keep you headed towards your goals while preventing you from hitting training plateaus.
4. Get a Full Hormone Panel
This isn’t a workout per se, but it is actually even more important. As we age our anti-aging hormones decrease* production. Have you ever seen someone and thought, “Wow..they look so much older than they really are!” – this is an example of rapid aging due to a myriad of different reasons, but most notably stress.
As our bodies age, they are less* resilient like they are when we are young. When you get a full hormone panel, your doctor will be able to determine if your hormones are in a range of optimal performance. You will not be able to get this test from your general practitioner – so you will need to find a Hormone Replacement Therapy doctor in your area or online.
They will check everything from the function of your thyroid to the balance of testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, and FSH, LH, and T3/T4 hormones. The difference in maintaining balance in these hormones will be the game changer in not gaining hormone related weight (particularly around the midsection) as you age.
5. Shorten Your Program Duration
As we get older, the opportunity for growth from holding a training program for long is diminished*. Our bodies do not respond by growing and developing as quickly, and thus the risk for creating imbalances in our body integrity are increased.
My suggestion is to create a program that you follow for no more than 8 weeks and then retool and try other options. Ideally, I would see a program that starts each month on the first of the month and culminates at the end of the month.
This gives you immediate feedback, short-term goals that are reasonable, and the opportunity to see results without hanging on to something that may not work and that you may not like.
6. Increase* Core and ROM Dynamic training
Do things that maintain your balance training and are big Range Of Motion, while incorporating your core. With so many different brilliant pieces of training equipment these days, it isn’t very hard to find something that will work. BOSU is one of my training pieces for this.
This is the “half-ball” on one side, and the other side is a flat platform – you can use this apparatus for everything from squatting on it for balance, to training your core in an unstable range, to increasing* ROM for your back. Some others are the TRX training straps.
7. Longer Warm-ups & Cool Downs
Dynamic warm-ups are something that I am a huge proponent of doing. In my new book 25Days, I always start the workouts with dynamic warm-ups. Think along the ideas of doing jumping jacks, high kicks, high knee running in place, etc.
These kinds of warm-ups activate your central nervous system and serve to provide the proper energy pathway activation for intense exercise. This simple practice will seriously serve to prevent you from injury and will allow you to start your workout in a higher heart rate so you will get in shape faster and spend less* time in the workout.
8. Mobility Training
This is one of my new favorite training secrets. I do mobility work almost every day. My favorite tools for mobility and training recovery are the Hyper Ice mobility tools.
They have vibrating rollers, therapy trigger point softballs, and core wraps. The vibrating technology increases* blood flow and lymph circulation so that you increase* the healing* properties of “rolling” the muscle and dissipating the lactic acid buildup that comes from intense exercise.
This can be done daily, before or after exercise or as a stand-alone treatment to help with flexibility and recovery.
9. Recovery Therapies
It is important to understand that the real “growth” or development that you are trying to achieve actually happens when you go into rest and recovery; the muscles repair themselves from the activity.
If we can agree that recovery is vitally important to your success, then it is reasonable to presume that advancing your recovery treatment will further enhance* your speed and recovery results.
My favorite recovery tools are: Cryotherapy, Infrared sauna, the Theragun vibrating massage tool, Ice Baths, and good old-fashioned massage work. Try to get 2-3 of these varying techniques each week to get best results.
10. Schedule Your Off Days
A lot of people, I notice, tend to take days off when they feel like it. The thought process is, “If I can do it.. why wouldn’t I?” While I enjoy this enthusiasm, it also opens the door for you to say, “I am not feeling it today, I can make this my rest day.”
That gets in the way of sticking to a program. I like to schedule a reward meal at the end of every 5th Day with the last meal and schedule the 6th day as a rest day.
This gives me something to look forward to, and it keeps me from bailing on the workout and great nutrition on a Tuesday just because I feel like it.
So in conclusion when you and your body turn 40 keep in mind it is vital to continue your fitness journey or start one! It’s imperative to find time for yourself and your overall health and wellness. If you take care of your body, it will take care of you.
Don’t wait for someday, start today, and start with the basics.
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In-Post Image: Shutterstock.com, Womensrunning.competitor.com