FITNESS AFTER 40! WHAT HAPPENS TO US?
Over time you may have noticed changes to your body. Ageing may follow a pattern, but with exercise and good nutrition you can enjoy the most from the years to come. From the time you are born until you reach age 30 your muscles continue to grow larger and stronger. But, starting around the age of 30, you begin to lose muscle mass, up to 3 to 5 percent each decade if you are not active. The medical term for this is sarcopenia with ageing. Even if you are active, you continue to lose muscle mass, but at a much slower rate. The changes may be related to neurological fluctuations from your brain to your muscles that trigger movement, loss of nutrition, decrease in the ability to synthesise protein or in a decrease of HGH, testosterone, or insulin. Reflexes and coordination can also suffer from the biological changes associated with ageing. You may have noticed that your body doesn’t respond the way it used to. With age your body can get stiffer and wobblier, and your muscles more lax. This loss of muscle mass will also change the way your body looks and responds. The redistribution of muscle to fat may affect your balance. Less leg muscle and stiffer joints makes it more difficult to move around. Changes in body weight and bone loss may also affect your height. People typically lose almost ½ inch in height every 10 years after age 40.
Use It or Lose It
The old adage, “use it or lose it,” is true when it comes to your physical abilities. When you lose muscle, it’s typically replaced by fat. Although your weight may increase only slightly, your frame may appear much larger because fat takes up 18 percent more room on your body than muscle. Fortunately, it’s never too late to start exercising or changing the way you exercise and taking care of your muscles. There is also diet and lifestyle choices – but that warrants a different post completely. I am referring to exercise here.
Key Things You Need To be Doing
- Flexibility and Balance
People over 40 shouldn’t exercise more, they should exercise smarter. The first smart move is to improve your flexibility and balance. Both of these physical factors suffer from muscle loss and joint stiffness as you age. I am a firm believer in flexibility being the third pillar of fitness, next to cardiovascular conditioning and strength training. I can not stress enough how important flexibility is as you age, without it you won’t be able to get maximum benefit from other workouts that you do. If that mean you having to replace one of your cardio session with it then do it. Majority of my Stretch&Tone workouts not only improve flexibility, balance, mobility they also improve strength, muscle tone, endurance and power in your daily activities and other workouts. I use a lot of dynamic stretching which is a much safer method, and achieves better results than static stretching. Static stretching can actually damage your muscles and tendons, which may be why studies show it worsens muscle performance, particularly when the stretch is held for 60 seconds or more. Static stretching involves taking a muscle to full length and holding for 15 to 60 seconds, such as touching your toes, dynamic stretching involves movement — such as hip flexor lunges, pile squats or arm circles — to accomplish flexibility of the muscle groups. The benefits of dynamic stretching include more power, less injury, better coordination and balance and efficient neuromuscular activation. This means that dynamic stretching will help address both your need for improved flexibility and balance. Part of the challenge is that the neuromuscular connections that help maintain balance begin to erode as you age. Try standing on one foot without holding on to anything. It’s a little more difficult than you may have imagined. A simple daily routine would be to incorporate dynamic stretching (from my Stretch&Tone Zone) with foam rolling, and practice standing on one foot and then the other, every other day. If you are more advanced then head to my balance workouts. You should notice improvements in both your flexibility and balance over even a short amount of time.
- Modify Your Strength Training
When you were younger you might have “hit the gym” to lift weights on a consistent basis. But, as you age, you need to build functional strength over strength in isolated muscle group. The idea behind building functional strength is to improve your abilities using groups of muscles you would normally use in everyday life, refer to my previous post about – conditioning training and compound moves. Luckily my style of training suits you as you will find the majority of my workouts are using functional movements.
A example for you – the leg press machine may build impressive quadriceps muscles, but without improving the strength of the muscles that balance the quadriceps, such as the hamstrings, you may not improve your ability to climb stairs efficiently and effortlessly.
Functional strength training is training over a movement continuum. All of the activities you perform each day, such as walking, climbing stairs, getting up and down from chairs, lifting, pushing, bending, pulling, twisting and turning are done in three different planes.
Movements cross the sagittal plane when you move across the midline of your body, right to left or left to right. Movement crosses the frontal plane when your body moves forward or backward and they cross the transverse plane when your body moves up and down across an imaginary line at your waist.
Functional (conditioning) strength training – is a coordinated effort between multiple muscle groups imitating everyday activities and not training an isolated muscle group. You can accomplish these types of activities with free weights, body weight and kettle bells, all of which work your body through multiple planes using multiple groups of muscles.
Please comment if you found this post useful and if you would like more like this.