How to Get Fit after 40?

Get Fit After 40

Photo Credit by Ketut Subiyanto

How to Get Fit after 40? The idea of getting fit after the age 40 can be challenging. Due to the many changes in the body, which includes loss of elasticity in the skin and possible joint pain. The hormonal changes in women as they face menopause can cause other emotional changes that are tough. As the human body ages, the joints are more susceptible to injuries in addition to fine lines on face, arms and hands.

Making a decision to adopt a fitness regime at this age is probably the best one you can make. This ensures that the rest of your days are healthy in terms of physical, mental and emotional. This article discusses the importance of a healthy lifestyle at 40 that ensures that your 50s, 60s and 70s are fit.

We will talk about the essentials of a healthy diet, a healthy exercise routine, and mental and emotional wellbeing. This can only be possible if you understand the changes your body goes through after a certain age. Only through understanding these changes can you stay fit in your midlife.

How Does the Demands of the Body Change after 40?

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As you reach 40 years of your life, there are changes in your body. These changes can be broken down into ageing cells, ageing organs, bones and joints, and muscle and body fat.

Ageing Cells

In order for the body to function properly, ageing cells die while new ones are formed. According to The Cellular Basis of Ageing, several triggers cause a cell to die, and ageing is one of them. This happens so new cells have room in your body to function at optimum levels. Since cells can divide themselves to a limited number of times only, they die when that number is up.

Cells either can die naturally with ageing, or be destroyed due to harmful substances like radiation, chemotherapy drugs and sunlight. Other by-products of cell’s own activities can also result in their damage. One of these by-products is called free radicals which is produced when energy is produced by cells.

Ageing Organs

All the organs in the body function according to the number of young cells that are active. One study has shown that every organ in the body ages differently. Older cells are unable to function as well as new ones do. When the cells age and die, they are often not replaced and the total number of cells decrease in the organs. The most remarkable decrease as the body ages starts in the liver, kidneys, testes and ovaries.

This phenomenon leads to some organs’ inability to function properly. However, cells do not reduce in other organs, like in the brain. The brain’s condition stays the same unless the person suffers from a stroke or any other neurodegenerative disorder. In that case, there will be progressive loss of the nerve cells in the brain.

Bones & Joints

The density in the bones tends to reduce because of ageing as well. According to a study, every one experiences this loss in different terms of severity. Osteoporosis is a common condition where this loss is high and results in fractures occurring due to this. The chances of bones breaking in women after menopause are higher due to low levels of estrogen production.

The risk of bones breaking is mainly due to the body’s inability to absorb more calcium from food intake as the body ages. Vitamin D levels also reduce which is the main calcium-absorbing agent in the body. Certain bones like the end of the thigh-bone, the spine and the wrist are more susceptible to injury than others.

As for the joints, the cartilage, which lines every joint making it easy to move, becomes thin. This happens due to the years of movement and the surface joints are unable to move over each other. This leads to osteoarthritis, a very common disorder in the elderly. This also makes every joint feel tighter and may result in pain. This is one reason why a good exercise routine is important.

Body Fat & Muscles

The best way to maintain muscles is staying active according to Aging Changes in Body Shape. As the body grows older, muscle strength tends to decrease as the levels of hormone and testosterone decrease. However, this loss is not much and is preventable with regular exercise. Although, diseases and extreme inactivity can accelerate muscle loss greatly.

One way to delay muscle loss is by doing resistance training. Any exercise that encourages muscles to contract against gravity like push-ups, rubber bands and weights helps. Even if you have never exercised before and want to get started at 40, you can build muscle mass and strength. One thing to keep in mind is that it should be done regularly.

The percentage of body fat also changes with ageing. Body fat doubles in the later years of life changing the entire look of the torso. This is also a leading cause of health problems like diabetes. The increase of fat is inevitable, but regular exercise can minimize it and delay its onset. Read, Why Should You Start a Bodyweight Exercise Regimen?

The Importance of a Controlled Diet after 40

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The 40s can be more challenging for some as compared to others. You will notice your energy levels decrease drastically and more fat accumulating in your middle. Even though your diet has not altered all these years, the chances that these changes are present are high.

The basal metabolic rate decreases while the blood vessels lose their elasticity. The estrogen and testosterone levels in the body take a dive making everything confusing. Your challenge of getting rid of belly fat becomes so much harder at this age. This also increases the risk of heart diseases and other health related problems.

Yet, there is hope in the food we eat. Including these ten super foods in your diet at 40s, can do wonders. These can influence your health, keep you lean, and fit a long time to come.

1.      Calcium Intake

Increase your intake of calcium as it helps in maintaining the levels required, as the body grows older. This nutrient is vital for your health and you must aim to get 1000 milligrams of calcium daily. This is achievable through supplements and food rich in calcium.

2.      More Proteins

Adding more proteins to your diet is important for building muscles at the age of 40 and beyond. No matter what you eat, whether it’s a meal or a snack, it should contain proteins. Go for lean meat, beans, fish, lentils and soy. Some great snacking options include nuts, seed butter and hummus.

3.      Less Sodium

Cutting down on sodium will help you with the bloating. Foods with high sodium content usually come hidden in other treats like muffins and salted peanuts. Read the labels before adding store bought items to your cart. You may also need to look for sodium content in sauces, salad dressings and frozen entrees.

4.      Oily Fish

The hormonal changes are evident at this age which can be leading cause of heart diseases. Include foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids like oily fish and other supplements. These decrease any chance of cardiovascular related diseases.

5.      Welcome Quinoa

Quinoa is a whole grain that keeps you full for longer and prevents cravings that leads to weight gain – especially belly fat. A study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition proved that people who chose whole grain lost belly fat faster than those who ate refined grains. Quinoa is also rich in fiber so it really is a win!

6.      Leafy Greens

Vegetables are important at every age, but increase your intake of leafy green vegetables as your body ages. Camouflage kale and spinach in your morning smoothie or fold it in your breakfast omelet to make it taste better.

7.      More Soy

You may have heard that too much soy leads to adverse effects, particularly breast cancer in women. This in fact is not true. There is no evidence that proves any side effects of an increase soy intake at the age of 40 and beyond. However, if you are new to this, go for minimally processed soy like edamame and tempeh to get started. Gradually move on to processed soy hot dogs and protein bars.

8.      Time of Meals

A study has proven that those who eat in the earlier hours of the day did not gain more weight. Nor did they have increased levels of bad cholesterol as compared to those who ate later. Both the groups has the same of amount of protein intake.

9.      Balsamic Vinegar

Replace your regular vinegar with balsamic and notice the changes in your overall health. Add this to your side dishes and drizzle on your stir-fry vegetables as well apart from salads. This contains the same flavonoids that you find in blueberries. A great way to reduce the risks of heart diseases and hypertension.

10.  Eat Fat – To Lose It

The right kind of fat can help you lose that excess amount of fat from your body. A Mediterranean diet is the way to go as it makes you leaner and does not add any extra pounds. This kind of diet is rich in nuts, olive oil, vegetables and fruits.

Do I Need to Plan My Exercises & Workouts?

How to get Fit after 40

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A study published in the JAMA Network Open shows that starting with a physical fitness regime can results in great health benefits. Apart from improving overall health, the risk of cancer, cardiovascular diseases and the onset of ageing signs are greatly reduced.

The study further showed 150-minutes of moderate activity in a week was enough to stay active. This is easily achievable through gardening and other housework. If you are not into that, you can got for 75 minutes of vigorous activity in one week. This can be done through brisk walking, swimming, aerobics or running.

Apart from the physical benefits of planning an exercise or a workout routine, other psychological benefits were examined. The participants of this study showed low signs of depression and more energy.

Facts to Consider

If you are turning 40 and going back to exercising or starting a new routine altogether, consider these factors.

  • Ease into Fitness: in order to avoid the possibilities of injury or over training, starting slow is the way to go. Gradually increase your strength training but go slowly. Listening to your is the key.
  • Follow your Physician’s Advice: since your physician knows your healthy history, he or she will be able to advice on the best course of action. Warm up exercises before and after a workout is essential. Use a workout recovery tool to ensure that your muscles repair well before your next session.

Potential Barriers

The only potential barrier between you and your desired active lifestyle is your mindset. The health outcomes of starting a workout and exercise routine in the middle age are amazing. Numerous studies prove just that, yet people find it hard to get started. Keeping your focus on getting fit after 40 is directed related to other aspects of your life.

This brings us to our next big question – how to balance work and life? Read on to find out.

How Can I Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle with My Career at its Peak?

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An average 40-year-old person has:

  •  A career at its peak,
  •  A family that requires time and attention, and
  • A body that demands more.

The increase of responsibilities from all every aspect of life can often be overwhelming. This is one of the leading cause of mental and emotional disruption. Some people also associate this stage to mid-life crisis but there is a winning solution to everything. Read more on these findings here.

Creating a routine is the best way to go. Although, you need to ensure that your routine includes more than just work and appointments. Here is what you need to prioritize in order to balance your health, career and relationships.

1.  Make yourself a Priority

Do not underestimate the importance of your happiness. The 40’s is a great time to reflect on what you have achieved and what it is you are looking for in life. This can lead to true happiness.

2. Sleep Well

Keep a healthy sleep pattern and follow it. This will take some practice but eventually you will find that a well-slept body is an active one.

3. Build Strength

Get into cardiovascular exercises like swimming, running and biking. Join your local group to socialize while you are at it. Hit the gym at least twice a week to build your muscles strength. This will elevate your overall wellbeing.

4. Master the Art of Time Management

Your career will seem to occupy most of the 24-hour frame every day. Make sure that when you leave your office, you leave everything work-related there. Staying on the phone discussing sales while ignoring your family will result in stress and anxiety. Avoid working over-time and focus on your health and relationships.

5. Do Not Forget Your Social Life

Stay in touch with your friends and go to those family dinners every week. This will greatly influence your emotional health positively. Telling stories and listening to them in return is a great way to relax outside the corporate world.

Creating or breaking out of a pattern at this stage in life is not easy. Smaller changes each day and making healthier choices can bring a big change in your life.

How Can I Improve My Mental & Emotional Wellbeing at 40?

Improve and Get Fit after 40

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The challenges at the age of 40 are tough-face. Getting fit does not only include your physical health, but also your mental and emotional health. Here are some ways that can help your emotional and mental wellbeing.

Organize Your Thoughts

Our thoughts direct our behaviors and feelings. Sometimes, the thoughts we foster leads to behaviors and feelings that are harmful for us, and those around us. It is therefore important to reframe our thoughts in order to reap the benefits of emotional and mental wellbeing.

Practice Mindfulness

The best way to practice mindfulness is being in the present and appreciating the surroundings. Sometimes, surrounded by nature or loved ones can change the perspective of situations. Read more on mindfulness here.

Do What Makes You Happy

If you are passionate about something but never got the time before, it is time to start now. Through the chaos of daily routine that requires you to juggle between work, family and yourself, a hobby can be meditation. If your mind is at peace, you will be better equipped to cope with the pressures of other demands.

You can also try something new. Something that is solely for yourself and gives a boost to your self-esteem. Often, a sense of achievement is the only thing that can get you going through tough times.

Other related topics you might like to read:

References:

  1. Mayo Clinic Staff, Perimenopause. Available on URL: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/perimenopause/symptoms-causes/syc-20354666
  2.  Ji Y. Chong (2020), Overview of Stroke, Weill Cornell Medical College. Available on URL: https://www.msdmanuals.com/home/brain,-spinal-cord,-and-nerve-disorders/stroke-cva/overview-of-stroke
  3. Charles H. Scoggin (2013), The Cellular Basis of Ageing, West J Med, 135(6): 521-525. 
  4.  Ann Pietrangelo (2015), The Organs in our Body Age Differently, Healthline. Available on URL: https://www.healthline.com/health-news/the-organs-in-our-body-may-age-differently-091715
  5.  Better Health Channel (2015). Available on URL:  https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/ageing-muscles-bones-and-joints
  6. Shah K, Fillit HM, Rockword K, Young J, (2017). Brocklehurst’s Textbook of Geriatric Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, chap 80. Available on URL: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003998.htm
  7.  Arthritis Foundation, Osteoarthritis. Available on URL:  https://www.arthritis.org/diseases/osteoarthritis
  8. Joshua L, Why Should You Start a Bodyweight Exercise Regimen? Available on URL:  https://fitr365.com/why-should-you-start-a-bodyweight-exercise-regimen/
  9.  Nicola M McKeown, Lisa M Troy, Paul F Jacques, Udo Hoffmann, Christopher J O’Donnell, Caroline S Fox, (2010), 
  10. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 92, Issue 5, Pages 1165–1171. Available on URL: https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/92/5/1165/4597531
  11. Christina H., Madelyn R., Andrea S. (2017). Timing Meals Later at Night Can Cause Weight Gain and Impair Fat Metabolism, Penn Medicine News. Available on URL: https://www.pennmedicine.org/news/news-releases/2017/june/timing-meals-later-at-night-can-cause-weight-gain-and-impair-fat-metabolism

Others:

  1. Shimokata H., Kuzuya F., Aging, basal metabolic rate, and nutrition.
  2.  Pedro F., Diarmuid C., Scott P. Kelly,et al. (2019). Association of Leisure-Time Physical Activity Across the Adult Life Course With All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality, JAMA Network Open. Available on URL:  https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2727269?utm_source=JAMA_Network&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=ftm_links&utm_term=030819
  3. Romila M. (2014). Turning 40: A Mindful Shift in Perspective, Huffpost. Available on URL:  https://www.huffpost.com/entry/turning-40-a-mindful-shift-in-perspective_b_5363730
  4. Sue W. (2019). Fitness Success After 40, Part 1: Know Your Body Type! Body Building. Available on URL:  https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/over-40-fitness-by-body-type1.htm
  5. Top Tips to Improve your Mental Wellbeing, NHS UK. Available on URL:  https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/top-tips-to-improve-your-mental-wellbeing/
  6. Michelle P. (2019). Getting Into Shape After Age 40: The Best Ways to Do It, Healthline. Available on URL:  https://www.healthline.com/health-news/how-to-finally-get-in-shape-after-40#Easing-into-fitness
  7. Nikhil K., What Men Over 40 Years Of Age Should Do For Wellness And Work-Life Balance!, Atmantan Wellness Centre. Available on URL:  https://www.atmantan.com/what-men-over-40-years-of-age-should-do-for-wellness-and-work-life-balance
  8. Perri Ormont B. (2017). ​10 Ways Your Diet Should Change After 40, According To Nutritionists, Prevention. Available on URL: https://www.prevention.com/health/a20487687/10-ways-your-diet-should-change-after-40-according-to-nutritionists/

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