When you begin an exercise program over 40 years old there are a couple details that must be addressed. First – see your doctor to evaluate your ability to tolerate the type of program you are planning. There are times when a condition lies dormant or is sub-clinical (meaning you don’t know you have it) and can silently do more damage when you engage in a vigorous exercise program.
Second you have to address the clothing issue. Society is run by the youth and teens and junior clothing is ‘in’ while women’s clothing is difficult to find or exposes too much skin to make us comfortable. Find clothing that is appropriate for the type of exercise, the place and that you find comfortable. Clothing won’t make you work out harder or a better athlete but if you are comfortable while working out you may workout longer!
Statistically more than 60% of women don’t get the recommended amount of physical activity and one in four aren’t active at all. But the benefits of exercise and physical activity are well documented. Women who begin an exercise program over 40 reap the benefits of lower cholesterol, lower risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Studies have found that if you begin an exercise program in your mid-30’s through 40’s you are more likely to be physically active after menopause than if you are sedentary as you reach menopause. Exercise after 40 is the best reason you’ll live longer.
The number one barrier that women cite for not beginning an exercise program over 40 is lack of time. Unfortunately that may be due to the belief that the program must be intense, hard and grinding – something that leaves you spent and aching the next day. Let’s face it though – you aren’t training for an Olympic event. You are only working your body so that you can gain the health benefits of a strong fit body.
You need as little as 30 minutes each day. When you begin an exercise program over 40 don’t get hung up over the time or intensity. The most important thing is to be consistent and flexible in your approach. This isn’t an all or nothing issue.
There are things that you can do to make beginning an exercise program over 40 easier and less stressful. For instance, you should surround yourself with people who are physically active. You become your friends and if your friends are active you will be too. Try to find a partner you can work out with several times a week. This will work to increase your motivation and your chances of success. Also, don’t start out quickly but ease into a program. Don’t start out running 3 miles (you couldn’t!) but begin by walking 2 miles and then start walking and jogging, working your way to running or jogging.
Another thing to consider when you begin an exercise program over 40 is your lifestyle. Does your schedule allow you to go to the gym everyday or do you need something more flexible? Remember to rest when you aren’t feeling well and vary your activities so you don’t get bored. Whether you are a man or woman beginning an exercise program over 40 you should consider using a journal to chart your progress. This will help you to continue to remain motivated on those days when you just don’t see any progress.
If your intention is to include weight loss in your beginning exercise program over 40 then weighing in just once a week is sufficient. Most people will fluctuate daily based on fluid retention, salt intake and hormonal influences. If you weigh in just once weekly you won’t be as inclined to base your daily behavior on the weight from that morning. Even if your scale says you may have gained a pound or two it may just be added muscle mass. Instead gauge your loss vs. gain by how well your clothes feel.
To begin an exercise program over 40 you should prepare yourself mentally as well as physically. Remember to get a doctors appointment, surround yourself with friends who will be supportive and start out slow.
US News: Smart Fitness for Grown-ups: a 10-week workout routine
AskMen: Top 10 Exercises for Guys over 40
Vanderbit University: 12 Week Do-It-Yourself Fitness Program
BodyBuilding: Beginners over 40 workout
Prevention: The Essential Over 40 Workout
ShapeFit: Fitness over 40 – 10 Tips to Get in Shape and Stay Fit As You Get Older