A quick online search for “fit after 40” brings up over 3 billion results. Clearly, this is something many women want, and struggle with. There is so much information, it can be difficult to know what to believe. From needing to avoid some exercises to only doing others, it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. Let’s clear this up a little bit. Here is the most common myth about fitness after 40:
Fitness after forty is impossible!
This is the deal: our fitness culture hasn’t caught up to our real-life yet. We’re fed ideas that once you reach 40, real fitness is impossible. Instead, you should work for maintenance that will help you in your aging. But, it just isn’t true! You can become your fittest, healthiest self in your forties, even if you’ve never worked out before. Today I’m sharing just how to get fit over 40.
Read about Erin’s fitness after 40 journey here. And make sure you check out my post on the best activewear brands.
#1 | Build Muscle
Long gone are the days of women being told they shouldn’t lift heavy weights because they’ll look like a man. You won’t get there. You can’t. Women simply do not have enough testosterone in their system to build the bulging, masculine muscles. Plus, those really big guys have spent a lot of time and effort getting that way. I found this article on women and strength training really informative in dispelling those myths.
What building muscles WILL do is give you a longer, leaner appearance. It will also boost your resting metabolism, which makes it easier for you to combat the slower metabolism brought on by perimenopause and menopause. It also protects your bone density. Having more muscles and well-balanced muscles will make you more coordinated and limit joint problems and other injuries.
The best part? You don’t have to lift heavy weights to gain the benefits. You can lift heavy or light weights, or even just use bodyweight to build your muscle. Adding resistance bands to simple movements can take things to a new level quickly.
Remember, building muscle doesn’t always mean getting bigger. Think of it more as creating a denser, more compact machine. So your scale may stay the same, but it’s very likely your clothing size will change.
#2 | Be Consistent
It’s true that being over 40 may mean it’s going to take you a little longer to build the muscle and earn the fitness you want. That’s ok. First, find a fitness practice that you love, or at least like enough, and be consistent. Plan to stick to your program for at least six months. This will give you enough time to see the changes begin in your body. Then, you evaluate if you need to shift things to keep making progress.
You also need to make sure your program is manageable. If you haven’t worked out in a while, your program should have a modification option until you’re ready for more intensity. Watch your form too. While it’s not necessarily the muscles that make you more prone to injury during exercise after 40, some of your auxiliary systems could. People tend to be less flexible when they age, so if you try to reach something you could reach when you were 10 years younger, it could hurt. The same goes for lifting weight. Just because you could lift a particular weight before, doesn’t mean it’s where you should start. Let your ego go.
If you’re not sure about your form, you could ask someone to video you so you can study it later. You could also hire a personal trainer to watch you and give you pointers. Want to know a good way to stay motivated to exercise? Take pictures of your progress. It can be difficult for us to see the small changes that happen from week to week, but when we look at pictures of ourselves from just one or two months ago, those changes become apparent. Seeing concrete evidence of your progress can give you the boost you need to keep going with your routine.
#3 | Be Active In Recovery
The days where you could “throw down” in an intense workout most days of the week, may have subsided. Now, recovery needs to play just as important a role as your actual workout. If you haven’t exercised in a while, make sure you plan for recovery days. They shouldn’t be “days off” either, although those are important too. Instead, work for active recovery. So if you took an intense HIIT class Monday, then Tuesday you take a restorative yoga class.
By using your muscles in different ways, you continue to improve and enhance blood circulation through them. This will help speed-up the muscle repair process and can limit or eliminate Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). Active recovery can be any type of exercise that uses the major muscle groups in a less intense way than used before – think swimming, a long walk, or even foam rolling and massage.
As you become fitter, it is possible you will need fewer recovery days between your workouts, especially if you cycle through your lifting groups or practice cross-training. But, active recovery is something that will always help you get the most out of your workouts. It fends off soreness and helps your muscles prime themselves for further use.
You can make being fit after 40 your reality. With a plan and consistency, this could be the year you reshape your body.
What is the most ridiculous fitness over 40 myths you’ve heard? How do you feel about your own fitness right now?
Let us know in the comments!
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