You’ve hit the big 4-0, and now you’re wondering if it is all downhill from here. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be. I truly believe that age is just a number, and getting older shouldn’t equate to a definitive transition into considerably less strength and mobility.
The thing is, you do need to put in the work. After our mid-20s, we steadily start to see a decline in bone health, metabolism, and muscle strength. Because of this, exercises and other lifestyle practices may not come as easily as they once did, but you can still stay in shape and feel younger (maybe even better than you were 10+ years ago).
Here are some things you can do to keep yourself in shape after 40:
1. Maintain Your Workout Routine
This may seem obvious, but it’s a big one, because if you take a break from working out, it will be even harder to get back into the swing of things. When you’re younger, it’s easier to be a bit more flexible with how often to work out and then quickly adjust to a new stimulus that comes with exercise, but longer breaks in our 40s and beyond will set us WAY behind.
You can get back into a training routine, but it’s going to be a struggle, which is why if you are currently working out 3 to 5 days a week, keep it up! Working out is one of the best things you can do for your health. Make it a priority.
2. Focus More On Resistance Training
I won’t beat up on cardio too much here, but if you compare cardio to resistance training, there are more benefits offered to those who focus more on lifting weights than cardio.
Running, cycling, swimming—they're not bad for you. In fact, when programmed correctly, they offer many health and cardiovascular benefits. But I don’t think it should be your main form of exercise.
As I mentioned, our bodies naturally see a decrease in lean muscle tissue and bone mineral density. It’s normal for joint health to suffer after more years of wear and tear, and a major complaint from men and women is that our metabolism slows down as well.
The best strategy to combat and slow the progression of all these things is to lift weights. Depending on the cardio you are doing, there could be a lot of stress placed on the joints if there isn’t weight lifting involved, and studies show that bone mineral density vastly improves when resistance training is done regularly. This means a lower chance of developing osteoporosis or osteoarthritis, which can reduce the risk of falls and injuries as we age.
3. Get Your Steps In
With that said, you should be moving more if you are over the age of 40. It’s amazing how we could do the same workouts and eat the same things, yet somehow, slowly, gain weight. Our metabolism does slow as we age, and although adding more lean muscle mass can help, now is not the time to pump the brakes on moving more and being comfortable with laziness.
We need to get our workouts in, but what you do outside of your workouts matters. Going for walks, incorporating light yoga into your evening routine, and taking the stairs when you can are all little things that make a huge difference. Should you get to the point where you are exhausting yourself by constantly moving? Of course not—you still need to rest and recover. But if you are consistently in a pattern where all you do is sit and watch TV during your spare time, this may be your cue to move some more.
4. Evaluate Your Eating Habits
Yep, you need to take a hard look at what you’re eating. I know that I certainly can’t eat the same processed foods I did 10 years ago while maintaining the same physique and energy levels. You need fruits and vegetables, plenty of protein to maintain muscle, and calories may have to decrease due to changes in metabolism.
With a slower metabolism comes a lower demand for energy, so the calories you used to sustain yourself years ago are probably not necessary at an older age. If you are working out, this reduction in calories will probably not be substantial, but your daily calorie intake should be evaluated.
If you find that you are seeing a slow increase in body mass and you’re working out pretty regularly, then a diet or calorie change is probably needed to stay in shape.
Lucky for you, Mind Pump has a program made just for those 40 and older. Maps 40+ is the optimal solution to combat the aches and weaknesses that come with getting older. This comprehensive program includes easy-to-follow workouts, exercise videos, and tips on how to optimize your recovery.