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 says.
- 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.