Things change as we age, and that should include our approach to fitness. If you aren’t exercising in any meaningful way, and you never had, it’s never too late to begin. And if you are familiar with exercise, here’s how fitness changes after 40.
Changes to the Body After 40
From birth until age 30, our muscles grow, getting bigger and stronger. But once we hit 30, we begin losing muscle mass instead. And without preventative steps to avoid it, we could be losing between 3 and 5 percent every decade. It’s called sarcopenia with aging.
We associate growing older with a deterioration in things like balance, coordination and flexibility. When we think about getting older, we think of stiffer joints, weaker muscles and frailty. But can anything be done?
Use it or Lose it
It’s a nasty little cycle – we don’t exercise, so muscle coverts to fat, and then we feel the negative impact of extra body fat, which makes it that much harder to begin exercising. But taking care of your body with exercise is precisely what’s needed. And it really is never too late to begin.
In 1966, a study was conducted at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in which five healthy 20 year-olds were asked to stay in bed for three weeks. The effects were staggering in terms of the decline to their heart capacity, heart rate, blood pressure and muscle strength.
But with eight weeks of exercise, all five participants bounced back to their former fitness levels – and then some.
Here’s the really interesting part – thirty years later, these same five men were asked to be involved in another study. In that time, the baseline fitness and health measurements showed a weight increase of about 50 pounds, 28% percent body fat and a drop in cardiac function.
Following a six-month program of waking, jogging and cycling, the men had lost ten pounds. But their resting heart rate, maximum heart pumping ability and blood pressure decreased to their baseline levels from the first study, thirty years prior. Exercise had effectively reversed 30 years of decline relating to aging.
So Where to Begin?
Fitness after 40 isn’t about exercising more, just doing it more effectively. And the smartest place to begin is by improving flexibility and balance. It makes up the third pillar of fitness, along with strength training and cardiovascular training.
Making modifications to your strength training is another way to train smarter. Focusing on functional training instead of isolating individual muscle groups helps improve muscle groups that you use in everyday activities.
If you’d like a little guidance for the best way to modify your current workout program or just to get started, the certified trainers at Framework Personal Training are here to help. Contact us today.