Congratulations! You have successfully made it past 40. You’re almost there, with a perfect career and life after long years of constant struggle. So are you thinking of giving yourself a break? It may be early retirement, so you can sit back and relax. You are almost done with life, aren’t you? Not so fast! Life has changed dramatically; it no longer slows down even if you cross 40. In fact, for many, it’s actually when life finally begins. After bearing a constant stress load through your 20s and 30s, you can finally think about yourself and prioritize your health to remain fit after 40.
After all, you still have two-thirds of your life ahead of you. Some people start lifting at 50, and those who enter powerlifting competitions in their 70s. So what’s making you stop from achieving all this?
In this article, you need everything to keep fit once you enter the fourth decade of your life, so let’s dive in.
Start with a fresh mindset to stay fit after 40
“How hard can it be?” is what you’re probably thinking right now. As easy as exercising in the fourth decade of life sounds, it can be the most difficult to put into practice. But you can accomplish everything if you have the right mindset, the one that helps you ignore every single message telling you that such a goal is impossible to attain once you are past 40!
Do not let your age stand between you and your fitness. There is no fixed age to start working on your health. What matters is that you willingly attempt to better your body by giving it what it needs. You can try out new things and chase your fitness dreams as long as you continue to breathe. So get out there and challenge yourself in different ways. Discover what your body is capable of and what you can accomplish with it. The world is your oyster!
With a fresh mindset and motivation, you must be excited to start your aim to remain fit after 40. While we appreciate all the enthusiasm, it is vital to stay realistic. Remember that your body is not a race car. You cannot expect it to go from sitting all day at a tedious desk job to performing squats immediately. Every exercise requires a proper warmup session; as you get older, these sessions become even more critical.
As your age goes up, the level of blood perfusion in tissues and muscles goes down. So it’s essential to make them slowly transition into a particular exercise. You may also consider starting with low-impact cardio and switching to more intense exercise plans later. This will lower the risk of injury while improving your efficiency during workouts.
Make cardio your best friend
Did you know that every person in England starts walking for 30 minutes daily? It can save 37,000 lives per year. That’s what the stats reveal, and it’s shocking how something as simple as walking can save so many lives. It can cut down the risk of heart disease and diabetes and even protect you from dementia—all the more reasons to start walking right away and do more cardio after 40.
Walking forms the cornerstone of a universal fitness plan to keep you healthy, no matter how old you get. But if you wish to do something more challenging, you can always start running. As someone who has officially entered middle age, we certainly do not expect you to run marathons daily. A few miles of running every week can also work like magic to maintain a good fitness level.
Can’t run because you got bad knees? Don’t worry; you have plenty of other cardio options, like rowing, swimming, and cycling. All you need is the motivation to leave your house. Go outside, do your cardio, get some sunshine, and breathe fresh air.
Challenge yourself with HIIT to remain fit after 40
The stereotypical minds will force you to believe that high-intensity interval training is only for the young. Why would you even need it after your prime time of life is over? That’s where you and everyone around you are wrong!
When you enter your 40s, your metabolism starts to plummet, which can directly affect how your body handles calories. This is why most people suddenly gain a few pounds in middle age. You can burn these extra pounds with any other exercise, but they’ll keep pouncing back unless you do something about the slow and sluggish metabolism.
HIIT is hands down the best for this purpose as it not only revs up the metabolism as you’re working out but also keeps it boosted throughout the rest of the day. And if you dig in a bit, HIIT is not that complicated. Sure, it involves 20 to 30 seconds of high-intensity exercise, but this is always followed by a break lasting 15 to 20 seconds. This way, you will not have to exercise back to back and have plenty of time to gear up, catch your breath, and start once again to remain fit after 40!
HIIT after 40 sample
Here is an example to give you a better idea of what a HIIT session may look like: If you love cycling, get on a stationary bike and pedal as hard as you can for 30 to 45 seconds. Then slow down and continue doing it as you usually would, at a slow pace for the next 15 to 20 seconds. Repeat as many times as you want. You can do the same thing with any exercise (high knees, jumping jacks..) you are familiar with.
Need variety? You can find plenty of videos on youtube, like this one:
Not a fan of that one? Look through the platform to see what suits you best. Also, make sure you make the right move and if you are not sure how to do it correctly, get help from a personal trainer, for instance.
Protect your muscles with strength training
So are you fully invested in your cardio and HIIT sessions every week? Great! Now just to up the game, add a bit of strength training to your workout. But why do you need it when you are already following two different exercise plans? To preserve muscle mass.
The moment you blow out candles for your thirtieth birthday, your muscle mass starts decreasing by 3 to a whopping 8 per cent every ten years. And if you don’t do something about it, you will be nothing more than skin and bones in a few years.
So take action while you still have time. It’s still not too late. Start by working on individual body parts covering your legs, core, and arms, and aim to complete 10 sets of at least 8 repetitions each. If you add up the numbers, you need a two-day strength training, each session lasting no more than 45 minutes. Completely doable!
Here are some exercises that you can include in your next strength training session to become flabby to fit after 40:
- Arm exercises: bicep curl, arm circles, tricep dips
- Abs exercises: ab circles, crunches, planks
- Leg exercises: calf raise, lunges, squats
Give your body time to recover
It’s appreciating that you are willing to push your body to do something it has never accomplished. But remember, you can’t keep doing that all day, every day, once you are in your 40s. Recovery is essential, especially in this decade of life, as the body typically needs more time to heal.
Tissue regeneration and healing become much slower as we age; hence, it is impossible to heal from workouts the way we used to. You might be a hardcore fitness enthusiast in your 20s, putting your body through the most intense workouts twice daily for the entire week without any trouble, and we’ll gladly believe you. But you wouldn’t want to put your body through so much stress now as you probably won’t recover that fast. Now, this doesn’t mean lying in bed all week doing nothing. You can still train all week but allow your body some off time so it can heal and recover.
Few tips about getting fit after 40:
- Take breaks. You do not need to train every single day. Adjust your schedule according to your body limits. Experimenting is good, but don’t constantly push your body beyond its limit, or you’ll face burnout.
- Alternate between easy and challenging workouts. For example, if you have spent an entire Monday performing the most strenuous HIIT session, schedule a light walk for the next day.
- Aim for a good, high-quality sleep every night. Your body maximizes its recovery and healing processes as you are sound asleep at night. So make sure you do everything possible to make your sleep routine peaceful and relaxing.
- Add more protein to your diet. Wearing and tearing of muscles due to exercise becomes more common once you cross 40, so you need to make up for it by increasing your protein intake. In addition to eating protein-rich meals, you can consider adding protein shakes and supplements after consulting your trainer.
Getting fit after 40- it’s your time to shine
Remember, the struggle to remain healthy is not a sprint but more like a marathon. The habits and lifestyle you lay down right now will continue to shape your overall health for years to come. Even if you are past 40, you still have decades to live and enjoy, so don’t give up on yourself. Consider this as a new beginning to an even happier and healthier life. Pay no heed to people who tell you otherwise. Your body will thank you.