Age is just a number, not an excuse. You’re never too old to get started with a workout routine and there is never a bad time to better yourself and improve your physical fitness to live a happier and healthier life. All you need is 4-6 hours per week. In terms of fitness, from your 40s on, your focus should be on functionality, reaching or maintaining a healthy weight, injury prevention, and heart health. We’ve got five steps to help you get started and make a change!
1. Make time to workout
Make exercise a priority. Schedule it just as you would a meeting or doctor’s appointment as a means of accountability. Ideally, you can find the time to workout at least 3-5 days per week, 30-60 minutes per session. “I don’t have the time,” isn’t a valid excuse for skipping out on physical activity. There are many options in terms of workouts to help you stay on track, such as bodyweight, circuit-style, at-home, dumbbell only, machine only, and more traditional, gym workout plans as well. Find what works best for you and stick to it!
2. Do cardio
Cardiovascular exercise is any movement that causes your heart rate and blood circulation to increase. Cardio helps to improve your stamina and immune system, decreases your risk of disease, and helps the heart to pump blood more efficiently.
The American Heart Association recommends that one do a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate cardiovascular activity or 75 minutes of vigorous cardiovascular activity per week. I suggest a combination of both to meet your recommended cardio requirements. Examples of moderate cardiovascular activities include: swimming, walking, leisurely cycling, steady state rowing, tennis, and mowing the lawn. Types of vigorous cardiovascular activities include: running, hiking, plyometric workouts, high intensity interval training, and a game of basketball.
3. Don’t be afraid to lift heavy
Train smarter, not harder. Aim for three resistance-training sessions per week, more if you’re up for it. Perform three full-body workouts or if you prefer split sessions, split your training days as follows: lower body, upper body pull muscles, and upper body push muscles. Just because you are aging doesn’t mean you should solely perform bodyweight movements or use lighter weights. Don’t be afraid to lift a little heavier – select weights that are challenging, but doable. Aim for 3-4 sets of 12-20 repetitions per exercise.
4. Focus on your nutrition and supplementation
Figure out exactly what you need and in what quantities you need it. Start with your overall daily energy needs/caloric intake and the macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Figure out what you lack, where you need to cut back, and plan accordingly. Focus on consuming lean proteins and lots of fruits and vegetables. Try to limit your intake of starches, simple sugars, and alcohol as these prevent the release of human growth hormone (HGH), which is already at half it’s normal production upon reaching age 40. HGH aids in fat loss, injury recovery, and increases/maintenance of muscle mass. Supplementation can play a key role in proper nutrition. If there are macronutrients, vitamins, or minerals that you lack in adequate amounts, supplements are an easy way to ensure you meet your quota. Protein powders, multi-vitamins, fish oils, glucosamine, and probiotics are popular supplements for men over 40. Always check with your physician before adding a new supplement to your diet.
5. Prioritize rest and recovery
You still might be able to run for miles and miles, and bench press two times your bodyweight, but your body isn’t going to recover as fast as it did in your twenties. Listen to your body. Prioritize rest and recovery. Make sure that you get adequate sleep (minimum of 7-9 hours per night) throughout the week, adequate nourishment, and stretch regularly.