Your 40s can be one of the most amazing times in your life. You’ve gained an incredible amount of knowledge and self-confidence, and you are deepening your relationships with those who matter most. The not-so-pretty part about this time is the roller coaster you may be experiencing with your body: a slowing metabolism, hormone reduction, age-related muscle loss, and reduced hormone levels.
You may also be experiencing the effects of bad habits from your youth that are finally catching up to you. The good news is that you can still rock this decade by being consistently active and paying attention to your nutrition. Chances are you have figured out your hectic schedule a little better now and can fit workouts in a little more easily, and you probably have a better grocery budget to fill that fancy fridge with tons of nutrient dense food. Read on to find out how and what to incorporate into your day to day life to continue feeling great in your own skin.
Staying physically active in your 40s is of extreme importance for more than just vanity, although the typical post-40 weight gain does tend to occur more due to lowered levels of activity than as a result of hormones. Your body needs exercise more than ever at this point because of age-related muscle loss (sarcopenia), not to mention it will aid in promoting heart health.
Strength training should be a key component of your regular routine because it will help you gain and preserve muscle, which is necessary to protect your bones and joints and boost your metabolism.You should be hitting every body part at least once or twice a week, and full body movements that challenge balance and coordination will help you improve those skills that tend to deteriorate with age. Another benefit of strength training is that it will help shape the muscle underneath your skin, which will ultimately tighten up the appearance of sagging skin that occurs with age.
Don’t forget the cardio! Your heart needs to be worked as well in order to strengthen it, just like any other muscle. Your best bet will be to implement a form of circuit training – performing weight lifting exercises in a row with little to no rest to keep your heart rate up while also working your muscles. Circuit training is a great way to get the best of both weights and cardio without spending hours at the gym. Working your entire body throughout the circuits will maximize your calorie burn. You may want to incorporate separate days for circuits and focuses strength training as the latter is more important for building muscle while the former is going to work your muscles as well as your heart.
One of the fun things you get to look forward to in your 40s is the rising risk of disease and joint degeneration. The good news is that you can still use nutrition to not only lower your risk, but also help preserve or even better the current condition of your body.
Fatty fish like salmon and trout, as well as fish oil supplements, should be a consistent staple in your diet. The healthy fats will help lower your risk of heart disease and stroke, lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, aid in brain and kidney health, and even promote healthy, radiant skin (1). The question here isn’t why should you consume fish oils, it’s why haven’t you been and when will you start?
ish oil can also help reduce inflammation, which increases with due to age, environmental factors, and new food sensitivities that develop over time, among other things. If you start noticing that you are breaking out or experiencing digestive discomfort (i.e. indigestion or acid reflux), it may be time to start eliminating them from your diet.Always let your doctor know if these conditions get worse or don’t go away, but often they are a result of what we eat.
You should definitely start focusing on a wide range of nutrients, especially from fruits and veggies, to cover all your bases nutrition-wise. Also, it becomes much more difficult to gain and preserve muscle mass after 40, so make sure you are getting plenty of lean protein from sources like fish, chicken, eggs, and lean cuts of beef. This will not only help keep you full and rev your metabolism, but will also aid in building and maintaining muscle.
If you don’t pay attention to important steps like warming up before your workout or stretching afterwards, you will definitely be suffering the consequences later. You’ve spent 40-plus years wearing down your joints and muscles, so if you don’t focus on mobility and other preventative measures, you will feel more aches and pains after every workout than ever before.
Mobility work basically means working the way that your joints and muscles work together to improve flexibility and performance. This is more than just basic stretching; it means stretching out areas that are tight or shortened (think hips and chest) and improving flexibility and strength in muscles that are struggling. For instance, if you can’t do a deep squat, you probably need to work on your tight hips and weak glutes. Needs will look different for everyone based on lifestyle, career, exercise history, etc, but most people will need to work on opening up their hips and chest from long periods of time sitting at a desk. You can address these issues by using a kneeling hip flexor stretch and standing doorway stretch for your chest, among others.
Posture may a huge concern due to the shortening of your chest muscles, which can be improved by exercises like yoga or Pilates that lengthen muscles.Incidentally these are also great methods of exercise to take care of your stretching needs as well as core strength and balance, which tend to deteriorate with age. You will also want to work your back and rear deltoids, which pull your shoulders back, during your strength training.
Finally, make sure you are taking time for yourself to relax and destress. With age comes more responsibility and commitment. Make sure you are not only finding ways to combat the stress these events bring, whether through meditation, spa days, or simply reading a book, but you are also getting adequate sleep every night (7-9 hours). Lack of sleep often leads to greater stress because completing tasks and attending to all your commitments becomes more difficult.
So now that you know how to protect your body from age-related disease and deterioration, it’s time to begin implementing these steps into your routine. Take time for yourself, work on your balance and muscle gain, and make sure you are covering all your nutritional bases. Share with us in the comments below how you keep yourself young and what you plan to do to prevent father time from creeping up on you.