They say that 40 is the new 20 and there is some truth to that statement. But, there’s also some caution that needs to be taken in regards to that statement. We live in a world where advances in medicine, exercise science and nutrition have greatly improved the opportunities for men over 40 to live a more fulfilling, energetic and healthy life. However, we must be careful not to think that we can actually exercise and live a lifestyle as if we were still in our 20’s.
In our 20’s and 30’s, many of us were hitting the gym to bench press a Buick, show off the guns, get chiseled like Arnold, powerlift like we’re entering a strongman competition or get a six-pack to show off during the summer. Unfortunately, those fitness goals are no longer appropriate or safe for most men over 40. Well, I think we all can agree that it’s great to have a six-pack no matter what age you are, but the rest of those goals need to be left in the past.
What is appropriate and safe, is setting realistic fitness goals that can significantly improve your overall health so that you can live a healthier, functional lifestyle.
After the age of 40, men begin to lose muscle mass and strength. It’s a sad, but true fact of life. Our bodies begin to decline due to aging and we can lose up to 1% of our overall muscular mass and strength per year. A great way to combat this natural decline is by implementing a weight training program that focuses on building lean muscle.
In our 20’s, it was all about getting huge and building mass. Unfortunately, that’s no longer the best option for men over 40. So, forget what you used to do when you were younger and focus on trying to build some lean muscleinstead.
Building lean muscle mass through weight training will greatly improve overall strength, energy, stamina, sex life, coordination and balance.
Flexibility is easily the most overlooked aspect in a man’s fitness regimen. Yet, it’s crucial to living a functional lifestyle. We’re not talking about being flexible like a gymnast, but you should be able to bend over and touch your toes while standing.
Spending a few minutes stretching each morning can go a long way toward improving your overall function throughout the day. Additionally, it’s a great way to get the blood pumping through the muscles to wake yourself up.
Increased flexibility can help to prevent injuries, decrease aches and pain, improve issues with balance, improve joint health and to achieve a full range of motion.
Preserve the Joints
By the time we reach our 40’s, many of us have already spent the last few decades pounding our bodies in the gym, playing sports or through a physically demanding job. It’s about this time in life where we really start feeling the aches and pains of our younger days, especially in our joints.
Did you know that over 20% of men have osteoarthritis after the age of 40? And, this is just one of several possible joint issues that men over 40suffer from.
The good news is that there are many things we can do to help prevent joint problems in our lives. In addition to strengthening our muscles and improving flexibility, losing weight, reducing stress, decreasing high-impact cardio, decreasing heavy exercises like squats and taking supplements can greatly aid in improving overall joint health.
Let’s face it, most men over 40 have poor eating habits. In fact, I’m willing to bet that there’s a good amount of you that visit a fast food restaurant more than the gym. Before you get your boxer briefs in a bunch, this section is not about counting calories. This is all about making healthier choices with your eating habits. Your diet is just as important as your exercise. In fact, it’s actually more important.A healthy diet can prevent serious health problems like heart disease and diabetes.
I’m sure that the word “diet” scares some of you. But, it’s really just a word to summarize your eating habits.
Here are a few,simple ways to eat healthier:
Decrease consumption of alcohol, sodium, fat, trans-fat, artificial preservatives, fast food, and sugar.
Increase consumption of water, fruits and vegetables, lean meats, low-fat dairy, legumes and whole grains.
Improve Heart Health
Over 17 million people die each year from heart disease. Let that number sink in! By time we reach our 40’s, there are many heart disease risk factors that some of you may already be experiencing like high blood pressure or high cholesterol. From this point forward, it’s imperative that we really become more consciousof our heart health especially if heart disease runs in your family.
The best ways to improve heart health is by being physically active through weight training and cardio activities, eating healthier, decreasing tobacco consumption and reducing stress.
Over 40, Over Your Past
The key to setting fitness goals is to recognize what is realistic and what is not, to embrace the changes in our bodies and to learn how to make these fitness goals a part of your lifestyle. It’s not enough just to make these changes, it’s about maintaining these changes in order to live a long, healthy, fulfilling life. Let go of the past and look forward to making a healthy future.