Fitness After 40: Embracing A Healthier You

June 26, 2024

We always hear about “getting older and slowing down”, but that doesn’t have to be the case for you! Aging is a natural part of life, even if it isn’t always the most comfortable (hello night sweats, disappearing metabolism, and achy joints). There are still countless ways you can continue to show up for your health and wellness – no matter how many candles were on your last birthday cake! Read on for a holistic guide, covering the essentials of fitness after 40.

Fitness After 40 & How To Embrace Being Healthier

1. Be Mindful of Your Mental Health & Wellbeing 

    Everything starts in our thoughts, beliefs, and feelings, so paying attention to your mental wellbeing is the perfect place to begin. Let’s first acknowledge some of what is happening in your body and life while working out after 40. 

    Physically, you may start noticing signs of perimenopause happening as your body begins producing less estrogen. This could look like night sweats, hot flashes, mood shifts, and changes in energy and metabolism. Finding supportive ways to stay active and healthy is great for working with these new experiences. 

    Another key area to acknowledge as you enter your 40s, you may be juggling various responsibilities, from supporting aging parents to raising children, or advancing in your career. But no matter how packed the calendar is, or how many people need you, you are always deserving of time for self-care. Prioritizing and honoring that time for yourself is critical to staying healthy, maintaining good relationships, and avoiding burn out. 

    2. Safeguard Your Muscles & Bones with Strength Training 

      A rather unfortunate part of aging is that women naturally lose muscle mass and bone density. This is why strength training (which is a wonderful way to combat both at the same time!) becomes more and more important. It’s recommended to have 2-3 strength training sessions per week, focusing on natural movements like squatting, pressing overhead, and lunging.  

      To get started, choose one or two upper body movements and one or two lower body movements (check out our favorite dumbbell exercises). Perform 6-10 repetitions of each movement a total of 3-4 times, taking rest throughout. Gradually increase weight as you progress. To avoid injury, always make sure you’re working with safe form before going too heavy with weights. Something like a small group training class is a great way to incorporate strength training with focused attention from a coach.  

      3. Stay Limber and Active with Flexibility Work

        As we age, we tend to get stiffer due to natural muscle shortening and tightening. You might notice this as soreness and stiffness, or feeling like you need longer to warm up. Adding in specific work on flexibility keeps your joints mobile, can help decrease pain, and is supportive for maintaining a strong, balanced posture. This work could be stretching, foam rolling, and even group classes like yoga and pilates. All of these encourage muscle elasticity to maintain a full range of motion. This keeps you easily navigating everyday movements like getting up and down off the ground, stepping into the shower, and reaching overhead. It also helps you prepare for the unexpected like crawling over obstacles while hiking or climbing up a ladder. 

        Flexibility work is also supportive in helping alleviate pain and soreness from exercise, and more chronic conditions like arthritis. By taking time to stretch, especially after movement, you are increasing blood flow to those muscles and joints, which supports recovery. Try adding a few minutes of stretching after your next workout, or in the evening before bed. 

        4. Protect and Strengthen Your Heart by Getting It Beating

          By getting your heart pumping with movements like walking or jogging, cycling, dancing, jumping jacks, jumping rope, etc you are supporting your heart health and reducing your risk for heart disease. You are also perking up your metabolism to help maintain a healthy weight and reduce body fat. And that perked up metabolism can last for as long as the full day!

          Cardio is also an excellent way to connect to yourself by learning what you can do. There generally comes a period of fatigue when doing cardio exercises, and over time you may notice yourself going longer and longer without that fatigue setting in. Maybe instead of 30 seconds of jumping rope, you’re up to 40 seconds, and then a full minute, and beyond!

          5. Eat to Support Your Health and Wellness

            By choosing healthier eating habits that don’t feel restrictive, you are nourishing your body as it responds to hormone and metabolism shifts. Focus on lean proteins (chicken, turkey, pork, fish, lean ground meats), healthy fats (avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil), whole grains, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. It’s also important for women over 40 working out to pay attention to nutrients like calcium and vitamin D for bone health, and protein to support maintaining muscle mass.

            Embracing Fitness After 40

            Thinking about your mental health, finding a good balance of strength, cardio, and flexibility work, and eating a diet that is nutritious and supportive can help you stay vibrant, healthy, and thriving. Hopefully you are feeling supported to enhance your overall health, manage the changes of aging, and to step into another active, fulfilling decade of life. Here’s to many more!

            Resources:

            Strength training in older adults: The benefits for osteoarthritis – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3606891/

            The truth about metabolism –
            https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-truth-about-metabolism

            How our food affects our hormones –
            https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3888442/

            Written by Allison Krawiec-Thayer, CPC, ELI-MP

            Allison KT is a certified mindset coach and group fitness instructor who loves helping people surprise themselves. When she isn’t working with clients or leading classes, you can find her lifting weights, playing with her rescue dogs, cooking up a meal, or bike riding with her spouse. 

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