Working Out After 40

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Age shouldn't be an excuse for being out of shape, overweight and unfit. As you get older though, it does become tougher to maintain your fitness levels and manage your weight. Once you hit 40, your metabolic rate drops, meaning you burn calories at a slower speed and the weight can creep on, according to Dr. Pamela Peeke, author of "Fight Fat Over 40." Avoid the middle-aged bulge with a training regimen tailored to your individual goals and abilities.

Getting Back in the Game

  • The key to beginning exercise after 40 is to gradually step into an exercise routine. If you've not trained in years, start by just going for a walk every night after dinner, advises Dr. Vonda Wright of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Once you've made walking a regular habit, take your workout to the gym or find more advanced and energetic ways of exercising. Finding exercises you enjoy will help you stay motivated, adds Gene Schafer, owner of Arc Athletics Sports Rehabilitation in New York. Try dance classes, an adult softball or soccer team or join a swimming club or yoga class.

Starting with Cardio

  • Once you hit the gym, break down your exercise into two categories -- cardio and weight training. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults partake in 150 minutes of moderate, or 75 minutes of vigorous cardio every week. Beneficial exercises after 40 include walking, swimming classes and activities such as circuits or spinning, along with some gym-based cardio like stationary cycling or workouts on the treadmill or elliptical.

Hitting the Weights

  • Training with weights is vital once you hit 40. Part of the reason your metabolism slows down is because you lose muscle mass, writes sports nutritionist Dr. John Berardi in "The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition." Trainer Dave Draper advises working your whole body with weights, focusing particularly on your legs, as these are your biggest muscle group, so training them will result in more muscle growth and a higher calorie burn. The best leg moves include squats and lunges, either with weights or just your bodyweight, deadlifts with a barbell and machine leg presses.Throw in other compound exercises such as chin-ups, pull-downs, dips and seated rows, adds Draper. Perform two total-body weight sessions each week and hire a trainer for a few sessions to teach you techniques if you're new to the iron game.

Ramping It Up

  • Increasing your workout intensity is a surefire way to build strength and fitness and drop body fat. You need to go easy though, warns Dr. Mark Schickendantz of the Cleveland Clinic Sports Health Center. Reduce your workout times, mix in different forms of training and avoid training to complete muscular failure. While you may be tempted to push yourself to the next level, you can't train at the same intensity as you could at 25, notes Dr. Schickendantz.

Feel the Benefits

  • Along with helping you manage your weight, increasing fitness and reducing your risk of illness and injury, working out after 40 can make you happier. Regular exercise reduces your levels of the stress hormone cortisol and releases endorphins, which boost your mood, according to personal trainer Judith Filsinger. It also cuts your risk of Alzheimer's and improves your bone density and blood pressure, adds Filsinger.

References

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