Those of us who’ve surpassed a magic age–40? 50? may have been through the drill: friends feel it’s their duty
to give you the lowdown:
“Just wait until you reach 40 – your body will never be the same,” is a popular one.
“May as well spread that chocolate cake right onto your behind,” is another classic.
And then, there’s my personal favorite: “Once you reach 50, it’s all downhill from there.
Frightening prospects? Sure. But I wasn’t going to buy into it. I would not let age get the best of me.
Instead, I hit the books, researching what really makes a difference in staying young and fit. I took a nutrition class, trading in periodic chocolate lunches for, say, a chicken salad. I hired a personal trainer so that I would be strong and fit.
I was so jazzed by it all that after years of working in the corporate world and raising kids, I studied even harder, and became a trainer myself.
And what have I learned that can help you?
Go with it. Sure, you’re not 20 anymore – but that’s OK.
I discovered that being fit in your 40s and beyond is not as simple – and stringent – as suffering through rigorous diets and the kind of workouts you dread.
Instead, it’s about a larger commitment to a healthy lifestyle that, sure, incorporates tenets like eating well and exercising, but is also about embracing a time when you may be at – or near– recouping parts of your life that have been put on hold for work or kids.
In doing so, and hopefully adopting a more positive outlook with it, life can now be a bit of a breather when, perhaps, kids are becoming increasingly independent or you’ve carved out your spot in the working world.
It’s time to feel good about where you are in life and look forward to healthy years ahead. And – now this is the trainer in me talking — it is also a time to exercise!
But before I scare you off, remember that there are so many ways to get and stay fit that there is almost certainly means of doing so that you will enjoy. Walking, running, tennis, swimming, biking – it’s all good.
Keeping that in mind, I do have some tips for the 40+ crowd that will boost the results of your efforts, and keep you healthy and fit moving forward, regardless of what your “friends” told you.
1. Increase core strength, balance and flexibility.
Core exercise – whether through pilates, yoga, strength training, swimming or even tai chi – will help keep your spine and body stable using the muscles in your trunk, hips, abdomen and pelvis. This improves posture, balance, coordination, strength and helps reduce injuries as we get older.
2. Include Weight Bearing Exercises
Bone loss, especially for women, begins as early as your 30s and weight bearing exercises help to keep your bones strong to prevent the risk of osteoporosis or breaks in the years ahead. Weight bearing exercises are very varied – some suggestions for these are walking (opt for stairs over elevators), jogging, dancing, lifting weights and hiking.
3. Get Cardiovascular Exercise
Aerobic exercise helps keep the biggest muscle of your body in shape – your heart. Whether you like to take a brisk walk outside with a friend, play racquetball, bike ride or even jump rope – getting your heart rate up will boost your stamina and energy and help you maintain a healthy weight.
4. Mix it up and have some fun
So how much exercise do you need? The guidelines from the American Heath Association (AHA) and American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) suggest at least 30 minutes most days of the week. Mix it up – find what you like to do. I promise it will make you feel better and set you up on the road toward a healthy lifestyle.
By incorporating those components of working out into your exercise routine, you will undoubtedly see and, more importantly, feel the results of what boils down to simply living a healthy lifestyle that promotes wellness, vibrancy and even youth.
—Lori Herbsman is a certified personal trainer at One2One Bodyscapes in Mamaroneck