For many, the concept of ageing sets in with their 40th birthday. This transition can get all the more traumatic if you enter your forties with an inactive lifestyle. Blood pressure, poor heart health, osteoporosis are some of the health issues that can grip you. While no amount of exercising can stop the process of ageing, it can indeed be slowed down with an active lifestyle.
Once you turn 40, you lose one per cent muscle every year. The right types of exercises can prevent this muscle loss, delay (or even prevent) cognitive decline, which is a common result of aging.
For those with an active lifestyle develop better coping mechanisms towards age related issues. And the inactive ones will eventually feel it even harder to even stay active. So what do they need to do?
Working on flexibility gets imperative after 40. There are various flexibility tests to assess if you are at risk of high blood pressure or poor heart health. Fitness experts suggest active isolated stretches wherein you hold every stretch for two seconds, improving circulation and elasticity.
Too much cardio?
If you are new to workout, do not directly jump on to doing long hours of cardio exercises that require extreme endurance training. More than 45 minutes of cardio is not recommended for people above 40.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is as much for those over 40 than for the younger lot. Doing extreme intensity workout for shorter durations, 3-4 times a week is any day better than long hours of workouts. Science has proved that HIIT also enables production of HGH – human growth hormone – preventing muscle loss. But remember, you must allow your body to recover.
Exercises that engage your core like planks, work on inner muscles and its benefits go a long way. Various plank variations can be done for better balance and posture. Make sure, you hold the plank right.
Here is a sample workout by fitness expert, Neeraj Mehta:
How to start?
According to fitness expert Alkhas Joesph, you need to start your fitness journey in the most gradual manner. “For those who have been inactive, it is important to give your body time and the results will be seen automatically.”
Similarly, for Pilates expert Yasmin Karachiwala, knowing where your body stands is important. Karachiwala swears by pilates, cardio and freehand exercises like modified pushups, squats and abdominal crunches for people post 40. “It is important for those leading a sedentary lifestyle to understand that it is a process. Since bone density post 40 starts decreasing, exercising can only help you feel energetic as well as developing your muscles strong,” she added.
Another Pilates expert, Namrata Purohit says there are more than 2,000 pilates exercises one can do if they practice it post 40. “For those who are active, they need to continue with their exercise routines as it is. It will help them deal with issues like osteoporosis. However, for inactive people, it maybe an issue to cope with the same.”
Fitness expert Neeraj Mehta talks about three kinds of exercises that make you injury-proof and can benefit our body in a variety of ways: Stretching exercises like sun salutation and warrior stretch for lubrication in our muscles; Strength training like free squats, pushups and planks to increase your core strength. It manages three major body parts: chest, back and legs; Cardio exercises like brisk walking and jogging to encourage healthy heart movement.
There has been a long ongoing misconception about following weight training post 40. However, many studies suggest that weight training is essential to fuel bone and muscle strength in the body as these two tend to become weak due to inactivity and can lead to lethargy.
“We need to indulge in mindful training and eating, keeping in mind our medical condition. To increase muscle and bone density, it is important for us to do weight training for 4 days a week, for 30- 40 minutes,” says fitness trainer and expert Kumar Mannava. According to Mannava, it is important to get personalised consultation, as bodies react differently to different exercises post 40.
Therefore, it is essential to indulge in any kind of exercise that you like post 40 to promote your body to become its fittest best. If you have been following a fitness regime already, continue doing it, however, consult your instructor as to what will suit your body. Understanding what your body requires and working accordingly will give you the best results.