Whether you’re new to exercise or you’ve always been active, staying fit in your 40’s can be tough. Achy joints, slow recovery, and an increased chance of injury can all result in you exercising less, and feeling weaker, and more unfit than you did before.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way, and with a slight tweak to your exercise routine, you could feel strong, fit, and healthy long into your 40’s and beyond.
In this article, we break down the best fitness routines to stay fit after 40 and give you some useful tips to help you stay looking, and feeling your best, for as long as possible.
Lifting weights is essential for all age ranges as it will help you build a stronger frame, you’ll be able to improve your posture, and it can help you ‘future proof’ your body, helping to reduce the likelihood of you becoming weak and frail as you age.
It’s one of the most beneficial forms of exercise that everyone should be doing and the key thing to understand is how lifting weights benefits you.
For example, when we talk about getting stronger, we don’t simply mean you’ll be able to lift heavier weights. We mean you’ll be able to develop a stronger frame that can handle the stress and rigors of daily life with more ease and comfort. Whether that means playing with the kids (or grand-kids), doing work around the house or in the garden without your back giving in, or simply being able to tackle the stairs and go for walks without your knee, back, and hips giving up.
Lifting weights is one of the best ways you can strengthen your body, helping you to stay in better shape for longer, no matter your age. Everyone should lift weights a minimum of two times a week, and if you haven’t started already, now’s the time to start.
Ideal routine: You should aim to lift weights a minimum of 2-3 times a week and include heavy compound exercises that train your entire body. Click here to see an example.
As you age, your bones and joints start to feel the effects of high-impact exercise a little more than they used to. Whether that’s down to the natural aging process, or as a result of how you treated your body when you were younger, it can be something that impacts how you move and feel today.
The ideal way to get around this is to look to add some low-impact exercise into your weekly routine, and swimming is a perfect choice.
Because you’re submerged in water, you won’t feel any pressure on your joints meaning even if you’re struggling with an injury, you can still enjoy a worthwhile workout without doing any further damage to your body.
It’s also a unique form of exercise that uses all the muscles in your body, giving you the added benefit of being able to enjoy a true full-body workout every time you hop in the pool.
Whether you complete some laps in the morning before work or go for a casual swim on rest days, swimming is an exercise that you can enjoy for many years to come.
Ideal routine: Perfect for the day after a heavy training session. Want a fun way to challenge yourself? See how many laps you can do in 34-45 minutes. Even with no pressure on the bones, you’ll feel thoroughly worked out.
More and more people are turning to cycling as their exercise of choice, and while you might be put off by the image of middle-aged men, dressed in lycra, slowing down traffic, cycling is an activity you should consider.
It’s a great form of exercise that combines a variety of benefits to help you strengthen your body, improve your cardiovascular endurance and have fun, all while being easy on the joints but tough on the muscles.
You also have the choice of being able to hop on a bike and work out in a range of ways.
Whether that’s outdoors, with friends, or a local cycling club Indoors, as you push yourself through a high-intensity spin class, or on a recumbent bike, for a casual 30-minute session before work.
It’s a fantastic calorie burner, which makes it great if you’re looking to lose weight and due to the low impact nature of cycling, it won’t put any extra stress on the bones or joints, making it ideal for anyone who’s recovering from an injury or who struggles with their joints.
Ideal routine: If you have a bike at home, we recommend an easy 20-30 minute ride on rest days to keep your body moving (you might even want to do this most mornings to get your body fired up). If you’re a gym member and a fan of spin, we recommend getting to one class a week. It’s a great way to burn calories and a fun way to enjoy some high-intensity exercise.
If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere with local trails nearby, hiking could be a great way to ensure you stay fit and healthy well into your later years.
Hiking is a wonderful way to burn calories, which helps if you’re trying to lose weight or maintain a lean physique and due to the terrain of certain routes, it can also be a good way to strengthen and tone your muscles, specifically in your lower body such as your quads, calves, and glutes.
Depending on what trails you have available, you can explore great views and have a lot of fun whether you’re in a group with friends or on your own and because it’s self-paced, you don’t have to worry about overexerting yourself or putting too much stress on your body.
You get to control the tempo and you’ll often have a selection of routes to chose from, giving you complete control over how intense your hike is.
Ideal Routine: Getting outdoors 1-2 times a week would be great. Either on rest days or at the weekend when you can take your time and there’s no need to rush.
One of the most important forms of exercise you can do as you age is anything revolving around flexibility and mobility, which is why yoga makes this list.
It’s one of the oldest forms of exercise in the world and is known for helping participants feel stronger, more flexible, and mobile, even when they’re in their 90’s.
When you think of yoga, you might have images of trying to hold a stretch in a difficult position but it’s actually much more than that and it could hold the key to how well you move for the rest of your life.
The body is all connected, and tight muscles, bad posture, or limited mobility can wreak havoc on your entire body, causing pain and discomfort in your back, hips, neck, and more if it isn’t addressed.
Yoga can help you to stretch and relax your muscles and help you to improve your overall posture and range of motion. This will help you feel better and reduce tightness while also helping you to move better, whether that’s in your day-to-day life or when doing other forms of exercise.
Ideal Routine: Our advice is to follow a quickfire (10-15 minute) stretch and mobility routine every single morning. In addition to this, make it a priority to perform a full 30-45 minute yoga routine 2-3 times a week.
As people age, it’s common for higher intensity exercise to feel harder than it did in the past.
As a result, they stop pushing themselves as much and opt for easier, more comfortable forms of exercise instead, which is a huge mistake.
When you take things easy, your body isn’t sufficiently challenged and you eventually get comfortable. Before long, the exercise won’t have any impact on your body which means your progress starts to dip and you’ll end up feeling weaker and not looking as good as you did in the past.
That’s why it’s so important that you continue to challenge your body even as you reach above 40.
It’ll ensure you continue to make progress and will help your body to function effectively, benefiting your health.
Whether you take part in a HIIT class at the gym, or you perform higher intensity HIIT workouts on a bike, in the pool, or while out running, the key is to ensure you’re working at a high heart rate and pushing yourself enough to enjoy a powerful workout.
Ideal routine: Try to perform at least 1-2 higher intensity sessions a week. Using the examples above, you could perform one Spin session and make the other session more variable. For example, make your morning swim an interval session once a week. That way you’ll get all the high-intensity benefits without burning your body out.
Lifestyle Changes That Impact Your Life
Having the right exercise schedule is one way to ensure you’re still fit and healthy in your 40’s. However, it may also be time to re-evaluate how you live the rest of your life.
We recommended you take a look at your diet, think about how much sleep you’re getting, and analyze other aspects of your life to ensure you’re making the necessary choices that will help you stay fit and healthy in your 40’s. Take a look here to see what else we recommend you should do to keep fit in your 40’s. [LINK TO OTHER ARTICLE ABOUT FIT IN 40’S]
By now you should have realized that it is still possible to stay fit and healthy in your 40’s, and in most cases, you may not even need to make huge changes to your workout routines. Using our examples above you can easily build a workout schedule that includes weights, yoga, swimming cycling, and regular hikes, without feeling burned out or excessively tired.
Of course, you may not be able to fit all of these exercises in but the key takeaway is that as you age, your mindset around health and fitness should also evolve. Reaching your 40’s does not mean you’re over the hill or that it’s time to stop exercising altogether, it simply means you have to be more mindful about how you treat your body.
If you used to beat your body up, then it’s time to add in a few exercises that will help you take better care of your body, whereas if you’re used to taking it easy, it’s time to add weights and HIIT to your weekly routine to ensure you don’t become too complacent and quickly decline.
Just make sure whichever direction you take, you’re focused on having fun and challenging your body and you’ll be just fine.