Easy Ways To Turn Back Fitness Clock after 40
In this article we introduce the Dos and Don'ts for people between ages 40 and 60. How do you get fit again? Well, its possible and can double your chances of healthy retirement, along with longer lifespan.
So, let's chart your new routine.
We have previously discussed how strength training reduces age-related muscle loss in midlife. Your nutrition should include additional protein consumption for delivering the results from your effort at pumping iron.
Many of us become complacent about fitness as we age, staying busy with work, family and social commitments. Did you know that our 40s to 60s is actually the best time to ramp up activity levels?
As per a professor of ageing and health at Glasgow Caledonian University, we start to lose fitness, strength and stamina from our 30s. This speeds up during our 40s and particularly in our 50s. Low oestrogen levels in women and drop in testosterone in men means we may lose muscle mass and feel the onset of middle-age and its related health issues.
Our arteries will stiffen, blood pressure will rise, lung capacity shows decline. To avoid these unhealthy changes, we need to become more active. Get off the office chair and homely couch and move around, utilising our muscles and organs. It's never too late to turn back the fitness clock.
A professor at Leicester University on the subject of physical activity, sedentary lifestyle believes there is hope for many. People who have remained without physical exercises in their 40s and 50s can also recover their health. They can witness massive improvements in their fitness levels including cardiovascular capacity.
Studies show that people aged 40 to 60 were less less likely to die from cancer, heart disease over the next dozen years if they simply did activities such as walking & cycling a few hours every week -- when compared to those who continued their sedentary behaviour.
While most Indians seem to be forced into physical activity due to circumstances, environment or employment, there are still many in urban areas who are fast adopting the Western culture of zest in siesta. This joy in being laidback becomes a habit which ultimately causes urban lifestyle illnesses including obesity, addictions, joint pains, etc.
More importantly, your physical laidback life may become a mental state of lethargy, laziness and boredom. This is already visible in many teenagers in cities.
We all need to move more and sit less. Dictating it to kids while they see their elders doing the opposite will not bear any positive results.
How to do it?
1. Brisk walking. It will actually turn your biological clock backwards. Do at least 100 steps per minute or aim for pace of 6 km per hour. It is similar to running and burns calories aplenty. Try walking fast for 10 minutes at first and then start counting steps and kms. Fast-paced walkers live longer, healthier lives.
2. Take the staircase for a change. Climbing stairs, leads to a 38-40 per cent reduced risk of death from cancer and a 48-49 per cent reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease over seven years.
3. No gym, no worries. Try introducing micro exercise bursts in your daily routine. Increase daily physical activity by 60 minutes a week to boost fitness and overall cardio-respiratory health. You’ll become more fit, get lean and have a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes. Imagine it as an "exercise snack". E.g. Add a few squats into your daily schedule. Even dancing or Zumba can benefit you, helping you improve your body balance & social life as you age, while having fun in a stress-free activity. Can't do a push-up? Lean against a wall and try pushing away from it. Soon enough you will have the strength to do a couple of push-ups on the floor.
4. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is better at speeding up your fitness, literally and figuratively. Running, cycling or push-up at one go will help you look and feel good at any age. Most older adults can get benefits from HIIT but consult your doctor before you begin a HIIT session. Do shorter, intense sessions to boost strength and stamina, increase your calorie burn, boost your metabolism and improve your muscle power. Also add longer, steadier sessions to strengthen your heart and lungs, burn fat, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and regulate blood sugar.
e.g. 15 minute HIIT session one day and a 40 minute low intensity session the next day.
If you can talk while you exercise, then you are not doing HIIT right.
If you can sing while you exercise, you are doing the low intensity exercise correctly.
5. Squats, lunge and lift is important strength training as we age. Muscle loss starts at 30 and accelerates very fast after 60. Strength training will increase bone density, raise your metabolism and help burn calories while reducing cardiovascular risk factors including high blood pressure. Studies suggest just 30-60 minutes a week of strength training, e.g. lifting weights or doing push-ups leads to a 10-20 per cent lower risk of heart disease and cancer.
People don't even need to use any weights because simple body-weight exercises such as squats, lunges and deadlifts will mimic the movements done in daily life, such as bending down to pick up socks or packing up a suitcase for storage. It trains your body to function better, and employ more muscles and ligaments.
So try a push (push-up), pull (deadlift) and use the front and back of your legs (squat). Aim for two 30-minute sessions per week at the very least.
6. Playing racquet sports such as tennis, badminton, squash, etc. keeps your brain and body young. Your mind remains sharp and your co-ordination improves including balancing skills and a boost for your cardio-respiratory system. Your heart will be young again. It lowers risk of cardiovascular disease for a dozen years. Your entire body's muscles get an intense workout at once with a game of tennis. This trumps other activities such as swimming, cycling and walking.
7. Yoga: The ability to stand on one leg for 10 seconds is associated with longevity and health as per a study. Balance will decline from our 40s and 50s. If you don’t use it you lose it. Master single-leg balances, then do activities where you move in multiple directions such as dance and tai chi or sports involving unexpected movement. E.g. Football or swap the exercise bike for the treadmill.
Start by simply practicing standing on one leg. Now try it with your eyes closed. Just 10 seconds of balance in this state proves you are excellent at it.
Yoga helps build our muscle tone and core strength essential for mobility.
8. Middle-aged people need more protein to maintain and repair muscle and avoid muscle loss. Not consuming enough protein may lead to muscle loss. Utilise a steady flow of protein, every three to four hours through each day.
A meal with 20-35g of protein will assist in maximising muscle growth and repair.
9. Stretching and warm-up is the key to fitness for us all past our 40s. Retain your strength, balance and flexibility. Just like we lose muscles, our ligaments and tendons lose elasticity as we age. This will reduce our range of motion and everyday tasks seem a challenge soon enough. Joint stiffness and pain can be caused by thinning of cartilage with age. Stretching will keep you supple and injury-free. It is never too late to limber up and always stretch before and after your exercise routine.
10. Jumping, hopping, skipping rope are simple explosive exercises to strengthen your body. You will less likely injure yourself. It develops speed and power. So try bunny hops during warm-up. Jump forwards and backwards then side to side while your knees are softly bent. Jump using and land on both feet while keeping the knees bent. Try this for 10 seconds. Do a few sets like this. Soon your tendons, ligaments and joints will improve along with visible benefits in muscle power and coordination.
11. Nutrition. You are what you eat they say. Eat healthy!. For example: cutting out all carbohydrates may not benefit you. Consult an expert if you need to. Burn sugar, don't let the body burn muscles for fueling your workout. So neither overeat nor under-eat. It will mess up your metabolism and can even make you sick.
12. What else? Perseverance! Your Greek God physique won't get rebuilt in a day. That road requires that you walk the path daily. So keep at it. Don't let the bathroom weighing scale fool you. Muscles weigh more than fat and take up less space. If you are doing the exercises correctly and feel the youthful energy in you, then the weight is good muscle, not adipose fatty tissue. Discipline of daily small efforts will become an easy habit in no time. By your next birthday, you will feel years younger and cutting the cake won't make you feel guilty.
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Have you undergone a physical transformation? Write to us and share your experience by email editor@TaiJutsu.art