Fit and 40-Plus
How to get (and stay) active, no matter what your age
Cluff and Evans offer some advice for fitness fans 40 and up, whether
they're experienced exercisers or are just getting started:
- Know when it's time to make a change. Stay in tune with what your
joints and muscles are telling you when you work out, Cluff advises.
"Notice how it feels at 40. Then, when you get to 42 or 43, does it change?
Be aware of the signals that your body is giving."
- Modify moves that cause discomfort. "Take those heavy,
percussive movements and find a detour," Cluff says. "Instead of
running, hike. Instead of running three miles, walk five. Walk faster, on a
spongy asphalt trail."
- If you haven't been weight training, get started. Strength training
not only preserves and increases muscle mass and bone density, says Evans, it
boosts your metabolic rate so you can burn more calories.
- Warm up and stretch. Be sure to warm up before a workout and stretch
afterward, to reduce the risk of injury, Evans says. Adding stretching to your
workouts will help counter the tightening of the body that comes with age.
- Make proper form a priority. Evans' philosophy is to take 2 seconds
to lift a weight and 5-6 seconds to lower it. "Put more emphasis on the
lowering phase because that's the part that stimulates muscle growth," he
- Seek experts' help. If possible, hire a fitness trainer to create a
program for you and demonstrate proper form and control. If you belong to a
health club, take advantage of the services it offers. Many clubs offer a free
walk-through with a trainer to help you learn to use the equipment.
- "Snack" on fitness. Look for ways to fit in fitness whenever
and wherever you can. Standing in line or waiting for the elevator are great
opportunities to perform "fitness snacks," like drawing the navel to
the spine, sliding the shoulders down the back, and trying to balance on one
foot, Cluff says.