Fit at 40
Fit in your 40s.
“Happy fortieth. I’ll take the muscle tone in your upper arms, the girlish timbre of your voice, your amazing tolerance for caffeine, and your ability to digest French fries. The rest of you can stay.”
The satirical words and image by cartoonist Tom Cheney (1999, New Yorker collection) sum up the 40s in a hilarious way! Although it appears to speak to women, anyone currently in their 40s can relate.
But pep up! The 40s are favorable and enjoyable because you are likely in better control of your life situations and care less about the timing of social events like marriage, parenthood, and so on.
Changes in your body
No one is thrilled about the extra layer of fat around their tummy, and the 40s are blessed with an abundance of visceral fat! Our 40s are the magical times of our lives when weight gain occurs effortlessly! A combination of several factors—a drop in metabolism, less physical activity, poor dietary habits, and hormonal imbalances can lead to weight issues.
A study by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that men gained about 3.4% of their body weight each decade, while women gained 5.2% of their body weight. That means a 25-year-old man who weighs 170 pounds and is 6 feet tall will end up with a weight of about 180 pounds or more when he is in his 40s. Similarly, a woman who was 120 pounds in her mid-20s is likely to gain 10-13 pounds by the time she is in her mid-40s.
Experts say that muscle loss is to blame for the weight gain. But weight gain should not be viewed in scale numbers. If you are athletic and gained muscle mass over the years, this type of weight is favorable for you.
A committed fitness regimen can help avoid unwanted weight gain and boost lean body mass.
Which nutrients do you need the most?
The 40s are sometimes called the “sandwich generation.” Your attention oscillates between supporting your aging parents and your teen children. No one ever said that would be easy! It is a crucial time, and you need to take care of yourself to be able to help your family. Ensure you include these nutrients in your diet:
Omega-3 fats: It helps you keep a healthy hormone balance, reduces inflammation, and is good for your heart.
Dietary fiber: Make friends with fiber-rich foods to lose weight and lower your cholesterol levels. Fresh vegetables and fruits are your best bet for loading up on fiber. They keep you full longer while still keeping your calorie intake lower. Another plus is that they are rich in phytonutrients that help lower your risk for many diseases.
Vitamin D: Stay consistent with your vitamin D levels to keep depression, age-related bone loss, and diseases at bay. Annual bloodwork for vitamin D levels will help you stay at the right dosage when taking supplements.
Make sure you also include enough of the B vitamins, magnesium, along with probiotic-rich foods to enjoy robustness.
What about your thoughts and mindset in your 40s?
Your 40s are when your priorities come into clear focus. You tend to be a bit wiser and get choosier with friends and long-term commitments. The 40s are also the time when many tend to evaluate how much progress they’ve made so far in finances, relationships, etc. Eventually, you experience the infamous “midlife crisis.” Midlife changes are often portrayed negatively, but in the factual sense, you’ve grown, learned, and struggled. And you’ve changed in the last 20 years. This metamorphosis is a beautiful experience too, so embrace it!
How can you nurture your brain and your mind?
Your 40s are when you transition into middle adulthood. Head into it with realistic thinking, acceptance, and grace.
Remember, in your 20s, you liked playing the piano or writing in your journal. Get in touch with that passion again; you’ll discover more and experience something in a fresher way than in your 20s. Sign up for a cause, start volunteering in your community, and practice mindfulness every day. Simple breathing techniques can help you calm your mind and nervous system. You have plenty of resources to get started; smartwatches, like smartphones, are equipped with tools to help you in mindful breathing. You can take this further by starting yoga and meditation lessons; both focus on breathing techniques.
A 2018 study found that breath-focused meditation and yogic breathing improves mental alertness and function. The study found a direct neurophysiological link between breathing and brain function. Study participants experienced better moods and positive emotions while practicing such breath-focused techniques.
Your take-home message should be that your 40s are the right time to take charge of your health if you’ve not already started. Just like you regularly service your vehicle, now likewise invest some time caring for the most expensive machine you own—your body!
How to exercise during your 40s
By Samuel Biesack
Your 40s can bring new challenges that must be considered and overcome concerning your physical well-being. With hormones like testosterone and estrogen declining and weight gain becoming easier, it’s essential to pay close attention to energy levels, recovery, and your body’s response to these changes.
During your 20s and 30s, using a variety of different exercise methods is not only easy but suggested. In your 40s, there are multiple factors at play that make it more challenging to vary the types of exercise you choose.
In addition to the physical changes occurring, many people find that setting time aside for exercise is challenging. With family responsibilities and stress related to job commitments, fitness often becomes an afterthought. Additionally, studies suggest the added stress of these responsibilities can wreak havoc on weight-management and the ability to recover from intense workouts.
If you’ve established a healthy routine of exercise throughout your life, the goal here is to maintain the momentum of your habits, while respecting the changes your body is undergoing.
If you’re just beginning your fitness journey, you’ve made the right decision, but you must recognize that being older means a reduced ability to recover from intense workouts.
This reality means starting slowly to ensure you remain safe but also avoiding getting so sore that you never want to exercise again. Using one of LVAC’s Personal Trainers or TEAM Trainers to help guide you through this process might be a great idea.
With time constraints and the impending changes to how your body functions during your 40s, it’s crucial to prioritize the methods of exercise you most enjoy and also those that are most effective for you.
Full-body workouts are key during your 40s
When time is constrained and recovery ability is impaired, getting the most bang for your buck is the way to go. For workouts, this means prioritizing full-body workouts.
Unless you’re a bodybuilder or athlete who requires specialized training, using full-body workouts—either in the gym or through fitness classes—is the best way to ensure you’re covering the needs of your body efficiently. Doing workouts only for specific muscle groups can make full-body fitness and health difficult if you’re pressed for time.
By using full-body resistance training or attending high-intensity group fitness classes, you’ll stimulate your body in the most efficient way possible. Indeed, you can prioritize certain body parts to develop strength and definition, but incorporating those exercises into a full-body routine is recommended.
Just about everyone has heard a tale of how waking up in the morning is difficult once you hit your 40s. Everything hurts, and it feels like there’s no solution in sight.
Fortunately, prioritizing the mobility of your joints, tendons, and muscles can make a difference not only for pain but also in your ability to stimulate muscles properly and remain injury-free.
Studies on the subject suggest that having an improved range of motion often leads to a higher quality of life. Less pain during and after movements as a result of improved mobility means a broader variety of activities are accessible with fewer repercussions.
Prioritizing classes like Yoga, Healthy Back, and Yoga Blend are all great choices offered through LVAC. As a preventative measure, try taking one of these mobility-focused classes for every intense fitness workout you do or class you attend.
Here’s how blending full-body workouts with mobility might look during your 40s:
- Monday: LVAC’s Body Pump Express (Full-Body Strength and Conditioning)
- Tuesday: LVAC’s BODYFLOW
- Wednesday: Recovery Day
- Thursday: Upper-Body Resistance Training Workout
- Friday: Lower-Body Resistance Training Workout
- Saturday: LVAC’s RPM Cycle
- Sunday: Recovery Day