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Getting fit at 40

It's never too late to reap the benefits of healthy living.

No-one wants to get out of bed in the morning stiff as a board and taking a half-hour to straighten up your back.

Do you get out of breath walking upstairs or struggle to carry one shopping bag from the car when you have 15 to go.

Unfortunately, if we don't start to look after ourselves, we have that to look forward too as we age.

This study shows that regardless of what age you begin increasing your physical activity, there is the same reduced risk for mortality and improved quality of life.

Although there are clear benefits to exercising right through life, engaging in 150 minutes of moderate activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity can reduce risk of mortality by 32% to 35% in the 40-61 years of age bracket.

So getting in shape at 40 is definitely not too late.

Here are our 20 tips for getting fit at 40

Talk to your GP : As we age, it makes sense to check in with your doctor every now and then for a check-up. Before you start any fitness programme get yourself booked in for a general once over and make sure you get the green light to kick on.

Moderate your alcohol intake :

Reducing the amount you drink can not only have hidden benefits like reduced risk of developing long-term health issues, but you might also feel the benefits, like losing weight, increased energy levels and generally feeling better.

Motivate yourself :

The best motivation comes from within.

You'll quickly find that external reasons don't last and motivation will wane without having that inner reason driving you on.

But quite simply, if you need a reason to get and stay fit, how about living better, for longer?

Stick to exercise guidelines :

Adults are recommended to do a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity every day.

Start by walking for 30 minutes a day, or break it up into 3 x 10 minute walks a day, you'll quickly find that you improve if you stay consistent.

Ask for help :

Speak to a recommended personal trainer near you for advice and support in getting started.

A qualified personal trainer will be able to advise you on how to set up an exercise programme, make healthy additions to your diet, whilst holding you accountable for doing what you said you would in the early days.

On your bike :

Cycling helps to strengthen your heart, lungs and muscles and is an efficient and effective way to burn calories and aid fat loss.

It also puts less impact and stress through your joints, which is great if you have joint issues or an injury but still provides an excellent aerobic workout.

Take the stairs :

Any situation where you opt to walk rather than take the lift or escalator will benefit your fitness, energy levels and calorie burn.

Choosing the stairs burns more calories than a normal walk and will help improve your leg strength.

Your body is your personal gym :

Not ready for the gym yet? No problem.

Bodyweight exercises are a great way to build muscle, get stronger, improve your balance, build bone density and help reduce body fat.

A home workout that includes bodyweight exercises like push-ups, squats, sit-ups, step-ups and planks, for a minimum of two sessions a week will achieve the benefits of this type of training.

Resistance is key :

As we age, we lose muscle mass.

After 30, you begin to lose as much as 3% - 5% per decade and as much as 30% in a lifetime.

Resistance training is key to maintaining muscle mass as we get older.

Not only does it help you to look good, but you'll also benefit from increasing your strength and bone density, as well as helping to reduce the risk of falls and injuries.

I often say that I'm training now to benefit my 80-year-old self. I don't want to be reliant on a wheelchair or a stairlift in later life, and lifting weights now will hopefully go some way to preventing that.

Be social :

Like anything, if you have a good time doing it, you're likely to do it again.

Exercising in a group, with a friend, an accountability buddy, or even a personal trainer can help make exercising more enjoyable, especially in the early days.

Swim :

Swimming is a whole-body workout against the resistance of the water that you can continue for a lifetime.

It is low-impact and has many physical and mental health benefits.

Contact Hinckley Leisure Centre for more details on getting started.

It's also worth noting of the increased popularity of outdoor, cold water swimming and it's reported mental and physical benefits, such as increased metabolism, better circulation and reduced stress.

Just make sure you do it in a safe and secure environment.

Work your core :

Forget working on your six-pack, your core muscles support your spine and include the pelvic floor muscles.

Engaging and strengthening these muscles will help to prevent injury, improve stability, reduce back pain and help incontinence issues.

Nutrition :

Nutrition is important at all ages and plays a key role in the quality of life as we grow older.

Remember that weight loss is down to a calorie deficit and adherence to that deficit is key.

Add fruits and vegetables to your diet for a boost in essential nutrients and vitamins.

Drink more water, less fizzy pop.

Add fibre to keep you feeling fuller for longer and protein to your diet to help preserve muscle mass.

Making better nutritional choices is important when dealing with the physiological changes in the ageing process, so speak to a registered professional for advice and support.

Aim for 10,000 steps a day :

Walking is great for your physical and mental health.

As well as the numerous health benefits that come with being active, walking also helps to burn calories which can make weight loss easier.

I always recommend a target of at least 10,000 steps a day.

Find time to stretch :

Stretching helps your body become more supple and flexible whilst also offering many other physical benefits.

Such training allows for easier movements while building strength and stability.

Stretching your muscles and joints leads to a greater range of motion, improved balance, and increased flexibility.

I often spend 10 minutes stretching whilst watching a TV programme in the evenings.

Stand on one leg :

Balance exercises help to improve proprioception awareness, coordination and can prevent falls and trips.

Personally, I'm a big fan of yoga because I find that it improves my core strength and balance, whilst relaxing and reducing my stress levels.

Try new things :

There's no one size fits all training and nutritional plan.

Try things and find something you enjoy.

Running is good for you :

Running is hard.

It's hard physically and mentally when you start.

But that's why, if you stick at it, you'll reap the many benefits.

Our bodies adapt to the stresses we place on it, so don't worry about the stories you hear of running giving you bad knees.

Speak to a local personal trainer if you're not sure how to start and follow a well-balanced training programme like couch to 5k.

Listen to your heart :

Your heart and body will thank you for exercising. It wants to move and be pushed.

Pay attention to your heart rate during exercise, your maximum age-predicted heart rate is -

Age-predicted HR max = 220 – age.

So if you're 40 years, your maximum heart rate would be 180.

Moderate-intensity exercise is about 50% to 65% of your age-predicted heart rate maximum.

Listen to your body :

It's a fact that as we age our bodies take longer to recover.

Listen to what it's telling you and take it easy when you need to.

Our bodies need time to adapt to the stress we put on it so taking time to recover is vital to getting fitter and stronger.

Get plenty of sleep, hydrate, walk and stretch on your recovery days.

To sum up

It's definitely not too late to get started and get back to looking after your body when you reach 40.

The benefits are immeasurable and you never know, you might actually enjoy it!

Speak to your doctor before starting and enlist the help of a personal trainer if you are unsure how to begin exercising.

Ben Yates is a personal trainer based at Places Gym Hinckley and Hinckley Leisure Centre in Leicestershire.

To book your free personal training consultation click here


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