While many people do not look forward to turning forty, it does not mean an end to physical fitness. It does, however, mean changing how you approach your workouts. An unfortunate part of getting older is weaker bones and muscles. The human body cannot hold onto vitamins and minerals in its middle age as it could during its youth. This makes bones and muscles more prone to injury if you do not take the proper precautions. Here are some things to consider about fitness after forty.
Should I Still Hit the Gym?
With an increased risk of injury, many may wonder if they should continue going to the gym at all after forty. The answer is a resounding yes. As we age, our muscles get weaker, it is harder to put on and maintain muscle mass, and joints ache at the end of the day. All of this is true whether you work out or not. In fact, failure to exercise can exacerbate these symptoms of aging. Not only that, excess weight is just as likely to cause aching joints as well as a variety of health complications. Instead, those over forty should exercise smarter.
Flexibility and Mobility
Loss of muscle and stiff joints adversely affect flexibility and balance. Flexibility is a significant part of physical fitness and can reduce the likelihood of injuries. A great way to improve flexibility as well as ease sore muscles is by utilizing foam rollers. One caveat to this is for tender muscles. Not all muscles respond well to foam rolling, so do not push through the pain. Foam rolling should release adhesions and relax muscles. If you are tensing up from too much pain, you will not reap the benefits of foam rolling.
Another excellent method of improving flexibility is via fitness flexibility and mobility WODs. Flexibility WODs focus on improving your joints’ range of motion as well as lengthening the muscles that interact with them. Mobility WODs help reduce joint restriction, such as when a tight tendon or muscle prevents you from performing a certain movement.
Performing exercises correctly is important for athletes of all ages; however, it is even more so for the over forty crowd. As you get older, it takes longer for your muscles to recover from injuries. Proper form can help prevent injuries from occurring in the first place. Even if you have spent the last couple of decades in the gym, you can always benefit from trying to improve your form.
Warming Up and Cooling Down
You may be tempted to skip your warm up or cool down in favor of saving some time, but that is a recipe for disaster. In fact, as we age, we need to warm up and cool down for longer to prevent overuse injuries. While your free time is precious so is your body. It is not worth risking a serious injury to shave ten minutes off your workout.
Adjust Your Training Routine
How you approach fitness after forty matters. For example, many people try to take full advantage of their time in the gym by performing longer workouts for fewer days (i.e. 75-minute workouts three days a week). However, this is not always realistic for a middle-aged body. Instead, opt for 45-minute workouts five days a week. This will allow you to push hard without risking overuse injuries. You also need to monitor your pain levels during a workout. While many youthful gym goers may live by the mantra “no pain, no gain” it is not wise. Yes, building muscle does result in a certain amount of pain from sore muscles. This does not mean you should train through pain. Pain is how your body signals that you are pushing it to its limit. Listen to it or prepare for injuries.
Adjust Your Lifestyle
Building a successful career is a stressful endeavor. Maintaining it during your middle age is no cakewalk either. However, if you do not manage your stress, your mental and physical health will suffer. Some ways to reduce stress include:
- Getting quality sleep
- Drinking less caffeine
- Keeping a journal and focusing on the positive
How to Get Started
The above is all well and good for the already active forty-year-old, but what about the fitness newbies? Even if you never set foot in a gym prior to hitting the big 4-0, it is never too late to start. You can begin with bodyweight exercises and work your way up to weightlifting. Performing basic squats, pushups, lunges, and so on can help build your strength and improve your overall health.
Fitness newcomers should also talk with a personal trainer or coach before jumping into a new routine. Coaches can help assess your physical fitness and suggest routines to help you reach your goals without injuring yourself. To learn more about physical fitness after forty, contact LoCoFit Leesburg.