So you’ve made it to 40. Congratulations!
How do you feel? Any different to 25? A little bit right? Yeah me too.
Hangovers have certainly become a lot worse and you’re probably suffering with a few aches and pains here and there.
How best then to adjust your exercise programme to cope with these changes?
First up cut the drinking out and that will avoid the hangovers. I mostly listen to my own advice on this but occasionally forget. And then remember..
What are your goals?
In terms of your exercise programme, think about what you’d like to achieve. My primary concern for example, is to maintain my function and avoid pain where possible. For me that means being able to carry my daughter and go for the occasional run or bike ride without incident.
Not particularly lofty goals admittedly but this still requires work. Those activities all require my muscular system to be able to tolerate the forces involved.
My soon to be 4 year old weighs in around 20kg and if she’s moving around considerably more.
Running involves placing around 3 times my body weight through my lower legs every time I land. That’s a force equivalent to over 200kgs on every stride, even on the conservative side of things.
My point is that being able to live a healthy, relatively active life without pain requires a strong muscular system.
Now imagine I decide to run a marathon, take part in a triathlon, or even play the occasional round of golf. What forces would my muscles have to tolerate then?
So when people ask me, what’s the best exercise for over 40s? I first ask them what’s important to them. What do you want to be able to do? Put another way, what are you asking your muscular system to tolerate?
What’s different past 40.
The battle that we’re all in past the age of 40 is the one to prevent the muscle loss that is associated with the aging process, namely sarcopenia.
Hormonal changes within the body mean that we are actually getting weaker with each passing decade from this point onwards as we begin to lose muscle.
You can see therefore that any increase in demand, with a muscular system that is actually in decline, represents the perfect storm in terms of injury risk as I recently commented in this Guardian article.
Let me take a moment to reassure you that we are now at the low point of this article. You can expect to feel better from this point onwards as I outline the solution.
Two birds with one stone.
So what’s the best way to counteract sarcopenia and raise the tolerance of your muscular system? It’s resistance training, no doubt about it.
I recently heard a running expert describe resistance training as an innoculation against injury. For me it goes further. It’s the equivalent of getting under the bonnet of your car and making improvements to your engine every time you apply it.
It’s also the perfect antidote to age related muscle loss. Whilst you can’t stop the process entirely, you can certainly put the brakes on it.
I resistance train twice a week as a minimum, with a Muscle Activation Techniques session once every two weeks to prevent any potential issues building into more serious ones.
At the age of 43 I have less pain and equivalent function to my 25 year old self. Sure I have less hair and can’t drink alcohol any more but I’m cool with that.
Just being able to spring out of bed without aches and pains makes it worthwhile. That and being able to pick up my daughter without a seconds thought. There is no other exercise programme that would give me that.
Resistance training provides you with a strong base that enables all other forms of exercise from running to golf. If you’re over 40 it’s more important than ever to have it at the heart of your exercise programme.