Everything you need to know about exercising in your 40s

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In your 40s, peri-menopause and menopause can contribute to a lack of energy, making it harder to make it for a workout session. However, staying the course and continuing to increase physical activity can help to prevent age-related illnesses that are common during the 50s and 60s. “You need the right equipment, the right technique and the right instructor,” says Mumbai-based fitness coach Nam-Wook Kang. We spoke to Kang and New York-based trainer Samantha Ciaccia for their top tips on how to exercise safely during this decade.

How muscular changes affect the workout momentum

Sarcopenia, or muscle loss, can begin as early as at 40 years of age. This muscle loss comes from the fast-twitch muscle fibres that are responsible for powering high intensity exercises. To minimise the effects, fitness professionals stress the importance of strength training, which employs different muscle fibres, as well as full-body cardio workouts like hiking, swimming and biking. “Any joint that stabilises and bears a lot of weight can develop osteoarthritis first. Resistance training is key to help prevent worsening OA, as it tightens the surrounding ligaments that support the joint, thus reducing shear forces,” confirms Ciaccia.

“You can train three to five times/week for a total of five to 10 hours. You will be focusing more on your health and well-being. You will be spending more time warming up and cooling down, and you will rest more between each exercise. For example, a hour-long workout should be structured like this: 15 minutes warm up, 30 minutes workout, 15 minutes cool down,” says Kang. “You need to work on your whole body, but hone in on your postural and endurance capacity. Focus on keeping your joints functional and improving your mobility. Opt for more holistic activities such as yoga and martial arts in your training program as well,” he suggests. In terms of cardio, lowering the intensity but increasing the time spent may help. “Keep it low, this is a good period to enjoy slow and long activity like hiking, cycling, jogging,” says Kang.

How hormones can affect the BMR

At this age, as one approaches menopause, the fat distribution can change due to the increased amounts of estrogen in the body. Additional weight is stored on and around the organs, which can increase the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. This decreases the basal metabolic rate of the body, making it more difficult to lose weight and fat. It can put pressure on the lower back as well. Regular exercise to support these bones and muscles, and increase the heart rate three to four times a week, can stave off most age-related illnesses.

Safety tips to ensure a injury-free exercise session

“You may notice high impact exercises such as jumping, or any type of power work, to be a bit more difficult. As you age, your ability to produce power diminishes first, as compared to strength and endurance. So I would make sure to place focus on power and agility to improve those skills,” says Ciaccia. Agility workouts like drills, step-ups and box jumps help to improve coordination, speed and reflexes. Power moves like a bench press are great as well. “This is where biking, swimming or kettle bell exercises come in. These all increase the heart rate without significant wear and tear on the joints,” she says.

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