Exercising Over 40
What You Need to Know to Stay Injury-Free
Are you considering exercising again after a long break? Are you over forty? If so, you won't be alone. Many people decide that they need to start exercising. They decide to start again by necessity, or a motivation to improve their life.
Any new physical activity should always be started with a healthy degree of caution. That's especially true as we get older. Still, there are many benefits to regular exercise.
- A recent Italian study* of endurance athletes with an average age of 63 showed they had blood vessels that functioned as well as those of 27 year olds.
- The same study also showed that older athletes had significantly low blood levels of free radicals, which may help slow the aging process.
- Cross training can help avoid injuries that older athletes may be more susceptible to, such as those from high-impact activities like running.
- Exercise has been proven to be effective in reducing the pain caused by arthritis.
*Source: Taddei, S. (2000). Physical activity prevents age-related impairment in nitric oxide availability in elderly athletes. Circulation, the Journal of the American Heart Association. Volume 101, p. 2896-2901
Better Late than Never
Move forward with a regular exercise program, but consult with your doctor first.
- Get a complete physical examination because exercise does put stress on your cardiovascular system.
- A physical exam is very important if you haven't exercised in a long time.
- As you get older, your recovery time between workouts may be longer, which requires patience.
- You should also make sure that you build in more rest or easy days into your schedule.
Two Areas to Focus On
Strength training and flexibility are especially important as you get older. Focus your energy on these two areas. Doing so will help offset some of the negative changes your body experiences as it gets older.
- Strength training will help reduce loss of muscle mass.
- Strength training also helps keep your bones strong, which is especially important in older women.
- Flexibility is decreased as we get older.
- It's important to stretch before and after exercise.
- Be safe when you stretch—stop if it hurts.
- Hold your stretches for a short period of time, no more than 30 seconds.
Other Exercises that Strengthen Bones
As you get older, bone strength loss accelerates. That's why it's so important to continue to exercise. Women, in particularly, are vulnerable to bone strength loss with age.
To help offset this effect, exercise in a variety of safe and bone-strengthening sports. Variety is critical when working to strengthen your bones, as well as the muscles and ligaments around them. Depending on the exercise, you will reap benefits in several different ways. For example, yoga gives you flexibility, balance and coordination. And higher-impact exercises, like walking or running, helps build resiliency in bones.
Consider some of these activities, which can help your bones stay strong and healthy all your life.
- Weight training
- Trail walking
- Abdominal work
- Low-impact aerobics
- Step aerobics
- Racquet Sports