It’s not uncommon to notice changes to your body as you age. In fact, it’s entirely expected. And while it may seem funny to begin working out in your 40s – especially if it’s not something you did when you were younger – it’s never too late to start benefiting from exercise. Fitness is different after age 40, but it’s more important than ever. Here’s why.
What Happens to the Body after 40
Our muscles grow bigger and stronger for the first thirty years of our lives. But once we hit that thirtieth birthday, we start to lose muscle mass – not gain it. And without actively trying to avoid that muscle loss, we can lose as much as three to five percent every decade in a condition known as age-related sarcopenia.
We associate advancing age with the deterioration of balance, coordination and flexibility. And things like stiff joints, weak muscles, and general frailty are all related to aging. But what if something could be done to reduce or even delay those things from happening?
The Sedentary Cycle
When we don’t exercise, muscle converts to fat, and then we feel the impact of that extra body fat, which makes it even more challenging to start exercising. But taking care of your body with exercise is exactly what should happen – and it’s never too late to get started.
In 1966, a study was conducted at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. Researchers asked five healthy 20 year-olds to stay in bed for three weeks. The resulting decline in the participants’ heart capacity, heart rate, blood pressure and muscle strength were truly staggering.
Yet the most surprising part? After eight weeks of exercise, all five participants returned to their former fitness levels – and then some.
Thirty years later, these same five men were asked to take part in another study. By then, the baseline fitness and health measurements showed a weight increase of about 50 pounds, with 28% percent body fat and reduced cardiac function.
The men lost ten pounds with a six-month program of walking, jogging and cycling. And the most amazing change was to their resting heart rate, maximum heart pumping ability and blood pressure – all of which returned to their baseline levels from the first study, thirty years earlier. Exercise had reversed 30 years of age-related decline.
If that isn’t motivating to someone who has lead a primarily sedentary lifestyle, we’re not sure what is!
Fitness after 40 isn’t about exercising more. It’s about doing it more effectively. You can train smarter with a focus on functional training. Improving flexibility and balance – the third pillar of fitness, along with cardiovascular training and resistance training – is another great place to begin.
If you aren’t sure how to proceed with fitness after 40, the certified trainers at Framework Personal Training can help. Contact us today, and start making positive changes to your health and fitness. It’s never too late to start.