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Getting Into Shape After 40

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Lifelong Healthy Habits

Maintaining your health is a lifelong process, and staying active is one of the best ways to do that. However, as you get older the way you stay in shape is likely to change.  You may begin to develop natural aches and pains and experience a decrease in energy. Your metabolism may slow down, and your hormones may begin to shift. These changes can have a huge impact on your health, mood, and day to day life. However, the benefits of staying fit far outweigh the challenges. In fact, getting fit and staying fit after 40 may be more beneficial and simpler than you think.

The Key to Health

Exercise – most people recognize that it’s important for a healthy body, but exercise is more than just a way to manage your weight. As you enter your 40s and beyond, exercise can be the difference between feeling energized, active, and empowered, or feeling drained and slow. According to medical research, women lose up to 8% of their metabolic rate per year between age 30 and 40. Around this time most women, and men, are less active. A more sedentary lifestyle paired with a declining metabolism often leads to weight gain and sluggishness. However, regular exercise is a great way to boost your metabolism despite aging.

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Along with providing a metabolic boost, exercise can also help prevent chronic health conditions. Researchers found that 150 minutes of regular exercise a week in people over 40 significantly decreased participants’ chances of developing chronic health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Exercise can even alleviate the symptoms of menopause and arthritis and can also help manage depression. Staying active can be great for your physical and emotional well-being.

Exercise After 40

So, where do you start? The consensus in the medical community is that a slow and steady pace is the best way to get and stay in shape. Fitness should be a habit rather than an all or nothing routine. So, pace yourself, begin slowly, and try the 2 most effective forms of exercises for people in their 40s, listed below.

1. Aerobic Exercise

When it comes to getting in shape, you should begin with moderate intensity aerobic exercise, or exercises that get your heart pumping, such as walking, hiking, or swimming. Jogging is another great aerobic exercise; however, it may do more harm than good if you already suffer from joint issues or are currently overweight. Again, start slow and steady. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise for at least 5 days a week. This can be as simple as taking a brisk walk, bike ride, or even doing household chores like gardening or mowing the lawn. You don’t have to run a marathon. The key is to get your heart pumping. Beware of overextending yourself by doing too much too quickly. This will ultimately slow your progress towards your fitness goals, hurt your body, and discourage you. So be realistic, know your limitations, and only do what your body is able to.

2. Strength Training

You should also incorporate resistance training, or strength training exercises into your fitness regimen. Strength training is important as it helps you build and retain muscle mass. Most people, especially women, begin to lose muscle in their 40s, and strength training can be a great way to slow your body’s natural decline. The key is to find a variation that suits you best. Some popular strength training exercises include swimming, body weight exercises such as lunges or squats, and weightlifting. Weight training is one of the best ways to improve your metabolism and keep your muscles and bones strong. Try incorporating strength training at least 2 days a week and work your way up in intensity depending on your fitness goals. Not only will this help you manage your weight and build muscle, but it will also strengthen your joints, keeping you mobile and active well beyond your 40s.

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Stay Motivated

While aerobic exercises and strength training are important, the most important thing is to develop a healthy mindset. Your health must be a priority both inside and outside of the gym. That means you should adopt a healthy lifestyle rather than just a workout routine because the key to your health will be in the seemingly small changes you make. Many people mistakenly approach exercise with “an all or nothing” mentality, or they believe that they can’t make a long term, healthy change. However, consistency and dedication are the most important things, even if you don’t make it to the gym. So, write out your goals, evaluate your current physical activity level, revamp your eating habits, and have a conversation with your doctor. Also, clarify why you want to get healthy so that you can make a lasting change. Then, slowly implement some new habits. Try walking more, taking the stairs, choosing whole foods, and learning healthy ways to manage your stress. This way, you will be able to make sustainable changes to your lifestyle and stay fit long after 40.