Fitness at 40

Talking to a friend the other day about the difference between exercise needs in our 40s compared to those in our 20s, made me think about what we need to do differently to stay in the best shape.

At 25 our metabolism is high, it was probably easier to stay lean without too much exercise. In fact it’s likely you could play some sport or go for a run without any preparation or training! Of course things change and as we mature, our needs differ, our tastes change and we need to adapt.

We are different in our 40’s. Our muscle mass decreases. Our body’s ability to utilize oxygen and turn it into energy during exercise reduces, so going out for a run if you’ve not run for a few weeks is hard. Our metabolism slows and our hormonal balance changes. Quite often our domestic situations go through change as well and we find ourselves with less spare time and in a more sedentary job. This is life.This is real. We’re all in the same situation, so we have to change, adapt and develop new habits and routines.

The question is what exercise works when we’re not 25 anymore?

We need to work cardiovascular fitness and resistance training into a regular exercise routine to improve both our strength and fitness, which will increase our metabolism. In terms of effectiveness and time efficiency, it’s hard to beat HIIT – high intensity interval training – for a great exercise session. We can combine strength training, which is essential as we age, into a HIIT using your bodyweight and eventually free weights to tone the body, producing the strength needed to withstand any back or joint niggles, improve posture, improve your metabolism and reduce body fat. 

The majority of sources agree that adding short bursts of exercise on a regular basis to your schedule is time efficient and super effective. The BBC dedicated a whole programme to this recently and came to the same conclusions, that short bursts of high intensity exercises is a really good thing!

If you like to jog, then keep that going regularly and if you do take time off then be sure to build up again gradually, being more mindful of your body. The same goes for starting a new running programme, either as a complete beginner or with the aim of completing a 10K or Marathon. Start slowly and incrementally increase the distance, taking your time to achieve your goals, your body will thank you for it!

As for other lifestyle choices, we’ll talk about those in more detail in a later blog. However, changing the way we eat and think about food is as important as is choosing the right foods.

The choices we make now are more important than those we made in our 20s. It’s likely that the foods we ate when we were younger will today take us longer to metabolise. We need to choose clean food. Nutritional, energy producing, disease busting fresh food should form the largest proportion of your plate with small portions of grains to aid digestion. More fruit and vegetables, lean meats and fish, grains, nuts and pulses need to replace the processed and starchy foods which you may have been able to eat more of in the past and drink loads and loads of water.

Keeping it simple and avoiding diets that leave you feeling energy depleted and unhappy. Taking control of your eating habits will help you function at your best.

Try to relax. It’s Tricky to get a moment’s peace these days but it is essential, we need to rest and sleep well. There’s a few easy things we can all do to improve sleep quality, drinking less caffeine and none in the evening, eating your last meal earlier and limiting alcoholic drinks, especially late at night. Exercise, eat well, find time to relax. You’ll be happier, calmer and sleep like a baby.

We may not be 25 anymore, but we can give our 40 year old selves every chance of being fit, strong and well. x

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