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As you age, it becomes increasingly important to stay fit and active in order to maintain your heart health. Unfortunately, getting started with a fitness routine can be intimidating when you’re over 40. How do you know what exercises will work best for your body?
Fortunately, cardiologists can provide guidance on the right exercise program for your needs. In this article, we’ll talk about how to get fit in your 40s and explore some of the strategies you can use to get there safely.
Getting Fit at 40
Regular exercise is an important part of staying healthy and fit, especially as we age. Exercise and weight training can be a rejuvenating and transformative journey, even if you’re getting started at 40. These routines have numerous advantages that are not age-specific, and it is especially effective for people who are starting a fitness journey in their forties.
The Benefits of Exercise
When you get more active, chronic health issues like metabolic dysregulation, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and neurodegeneration have lower chances of developing. Exercising can also reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, systemic insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and non-alcoholic liver disease. Exercise is a true panacea!
1. Metabolic Benefits
Regular exercise greatly improves metabolic health, even in the absence of weight loss. Its ability to offset the negative effects of too many carbohydrates and lipids is often overlooked. Even a small change in lifestyle, such as a weekly walk of 100 minutes, can enhance health markers.
2. Brain Health
Even though exercise is a strong tool for brain health, it is insufficient in the absence of enough sleep. Exercise and rest need to coexist in order to maximize brain health. Dancing, which is frequently undervalued as exercise, improves neuroplasticity and cognitive reserve by increasing coordination and physical activity.
3. Blood Pressure
Systolic blood pressure rises during activity, whereas diastolic blood pressure ideally stays the same or falls. This happens because physical activity reduces vascular resistance by widening arteries to improve blood flow to the muscles. Several studies have found that endurance training significantly lowers both the systolic and diastolic blood pressure, making it a very effective treatment for hypertension. It has also been shown that resistance training has similar and additional effects.
4. Stress Reduction
Many people use TV watching and other sedentary activities as a way to decompress, people who use more active stress management techniques typically find that they work better. Exercise has been shown to lower stress, improve mood, and improve cognitive function, all of which contribute to an overall increase in well-being.
5. Muscle Building
As you get older, keeping your muscles, joints, and bones healthy is essential for maintaining your mobility and day-to-day activities. Advancing age reduces your muscle mass. Less muscles means less mobility as you age and more risk of injury from falls.
Exercises that build and maintain muscular mass and strength, such as weightlifting, are crucial, especially for older people who suffer from age-related muscle loss. Strength training with gradually increasing weights and repetitions is beneficial for general health regardless of age. It has been shown that strength training even at 80 years of age is beneficial for quality of life.
Types of Exercise
The types of exercises best suited for people over 40 depend on their individual needs, likes and previous injuries. However, any exercise program should include both aerobic activities (such as walking or jogging) as well as strength training (using weights or resistance bands). Here are some common exercise classifications and what they mean.
It results in increased muscle strength, endurance, calorie burn, and cardiovascular fitness. But it should be used with caution, particularly for inexperienced users or people with underlying medical issues. Whenever you start high intensity exercise you have a risk of injury. Before beginning an HIIT program, speak with a fitness specialist or medical professional to be sure it’s right for you. They can also talk you through proper technique.
HIIT training should not be your only form of exercise. Most people should aim to do it once per week. It has fantastic benefits in increasing your VO2 Max.
Building physical strength, endurance, and fitness is the main goal of resistance training, also referred to as strength or weight training. It entails applying resistance to the muscles, such as body weight, bands, weight machines or free weights.
Strengthening, toning, increased metabolism, increased bone density, improved endurance, and daily functional strength are among the objectives.
Zone 2 Training
Zone 2 is the heart rate zone at which you are not building lactic acid (causes sore muscles). It is aerobic training that often feels like it is not hard enough. You can determine your zone 2 as the exercise where you could still hold a conversation but don’t really want to. It’s mostly aerobic, sustained, and strengthens your aerobic foundation, which increases fat burning and endurance.
Most of your aerobic activity should be in this zone for maximum benefit with minimum stress on the body.
It has cardiovascular advantages, increases endurance, helps with weight management, prevents chronic diseases, is good for joints, lowers stress, promotes longevity, and guards against injuries for people in their 40s and beyond. Before beginning any workout regimen, especially if you have underlying health concerns, get professional advice.
Finding the Right Exercise Plan
1. Set Clear Goals
Set specific goals for your exercise strategy. Having defined goals will drive your decisions, whether they are for weight loss, muscle gain, enhanced endurance, or better overall health.
2. Consider Your Preferred Activities
Try out a dance fitness class if you enjoy dancing. If you like being outside, go hiking or riding. Consistency grows when you enjoy your workouts.
3. Evaluate Your Fitness Level
Be truthful about your present level of fitness. Start with low-impact activities and gradually increase the intensity if you are a beginner. If you’re more experienced, try higher intensity workouts.
4. Consult a Professional
If you’re unclear where to begin, consult a fitness professional or personal trainer. They can assist you in developing a customized plan that is in line with your objectives and abilities.
5. Variety is Key
A well-rounded regimen incorporates aerobic, strength, flexibility, and balancing activities. Changing it up keeps you from becoming bored and allows you to work out new muscle areas.
6. Consider Time and Schedule
Select exercises that fit into your everyday schedule. If you’re short on time, go for shorter, high-intensity workouts. Longer, moderate-intensity workouts work well if your schedule allows.
7. Pay Attention to Your Body
8 . Be Consistent
Weight Training After 40
Weight training after 40 can be beneficial for those looking to improve their overall health and fitness. It is important to adjust your workout routine according to your age and fitness level in order to get the most out of it. Working with a professional trainer or coach can help you stay motivated, as well as provide guidance on proper form and technique.
Adjusting Your Workout Routine to Fit Your Age And Fitness Level
It is critical to tailor your training regimen to your age and fitness level for both safety and efficacy. Here are some essential techniques to assist you in making these changes:
1. Determine Your Current Fitness Level:
2. Consult a Medical Professional:
• Consult a healthcare provider or fitness professional if you have underlying health conditions or concerns to ensure that your exercise regimen is safe and appropriate.
3. Select Age-Related Exercises:
• Strength training routines should be included to preserve muscle mass and bone density as you age.
4. Put proper form and technique first:
• To avoid damage, emphasize appropriate form and technique. If you’re unsure, consult with a fitness professional to ensure you’re doing the exercises correctly.
5. Start slow and progress gradually:
• Start with low-intensity workouts and shorter durations if you’re a novice or resuming to exercise after a break. As you feel more comfortable, gradually increase the intensity and time.
6. Include recovery days:
• Allow enough time for your body to recover between workouts. This is especially crucial for older people, as healing takes longer as they get older.
7. Increase or decrease the intensity and duration:
• Depending on your fitness level, adjust the intensity and duration of your workouts. If you have limited endurance, shorter, more frequent sessions may be preferred.
8. Listen to your body:
• During workouts, pay heed to your body’s cues. Stop the workout immediately and evaluate the situation if you feel any pain or discomfort. Injury might result from trying to ignore pain.
9. Balance your cardio, strength, and flexibility routines:
• Make sure your fitness program is well-rounded by including aerobic, weight training, and mobility or flexibility activities. This keeps your overall fitness level high.
10. Fuel your body and make sure you are properly hydrated:
• Drink plenty of water throughout your workouts, and make sure your diet meets both your needs for energy and recovery.
12. As you get older, change your routine:
• As you age, expect to need to make more changes to your daily schedule. It’s natural for what was once comfortable to change.
Finding the ideal balance between challenging yourself and maintaining your safety, all while adapting your training plan to your age and physical level, is critical. Your health should always come first, and don’t be afraid to seek expert guidance and personalized solutions from fitness professionals.
Cardiologist Guidance on Exercise and Heart Health
Weight Training FAQs
You can still be fit after 40 if you use the correct weight training routines and workout equipment. When you’re over 40, it’s imperative that you include weightlifting in your regular regimen and adjust as needed.
See a cardiologist for individualized workout advice and heart health maintenance. They can advise you on the best workouts to maintain the healthiest possible heart.
Are you keen to start a fitness adventure and are you in your 40s? The Harley Street Heart and Vascular Centre is the only place to look! Our team of highly skilled cardiologists, obesity specialists, and heart health experts is committed to creating customized solutions to meet your specific requirements.
Written by: Dr Michael MacDonald MB ChB, BSc (Hons), MRCP (UK), MD (Research), FESC (Europe). Dr MacDonald was trained in the UK and is a senior Consultant Cardiologist