Exercising in your 40s and beyond
As you head into your 40s, the exercise that suited your body in your 20s and 30s may no longer work or give you the results that you want, for the effort you’re putting in. Your body is changing and you need strategies that suit it.
In this article, Rebecca Haroutunian, a Holistic Core Restore® coach, owner of Core Connection, shares her tips on exercising in your 40s and beyond.
As much as it’s nice to defy ageing, we can’t get away from a few simple facts to consider for women when exercising in your 40s and beyond:
- Our muscles are less elastic and our bodies are prone to muscle loss (sarcopenia).
- Our pelvic floor muscles also naturally thin as oestrogen levels fall in our 40s. This can lead to pelvic floor dysfunction such as urinary incontinence, prolapse and/ or vaginal dryness.
- As a normal process of ageing, the discs in our back begin to wear down. According to the Arthritis Foundation, after the age of 40, most people have some disc degeneration (although not everyone will be symptomatic).
- Our joints are more prone to chronic health conditions like osteoarthritis.
Our bones are prone to losses in density. We reach peak bone mass at the age of 25 – so bone health is not just old ladies’ business.
- Heart health becomes more important. The second biggest killer of women in the UK is coronary heart disease(1).
- Cognitive health is key. Dementia and Alzheimer’s are the number one killer of women, and one in three people born today in the UK will develop Dementia(2). But how many gym workouts focus on this?
It’s also a time where we can feel like we need to start slowing down a bit as our energy levels and recovery ability changes. Between your career, family, and friends, exercising in your 40s can fall further down the priority list.
But this is not the time to slow down and just do low-intensity exercise. When it comes to exercise, we need to increase the activity level that is going to help us live a long and healthy life. We also need to start making more informed decisions when it comes to working out and recovering.
Exercising in your 40s and beyond
The key is to start to get a good balance now, and to focus on some of those areas that may already need a bit of attention.
- Weight-bearing exercise. This not only helps us tone up but it keeps us strong and helps bone and heart health. This is because you are also getting a good cardio workout and the mechanical stress from weight-bearing exercise also improves bone condition.
- Focus on your balance as that’s a major area that worsens as we age.
- Include self-care and restorative movement like yoga. This will also reduce the stress hormone cortisol, which lays down fat around your middle, and brings a little calm to a busy daily life – as essential as movement!
- Include pelvic floor exercises to prevent pelvic floor dysfunction. Pelvic floor muscles are slung like a hammock at the base of your pelvis, supporting your bladder, womb and lower bowel. Pelvic floor exercises can strengthen these muscles to reduce the chance of stress urinary leakage (for example, when coughing or sneezing). Address any problems now!
Exercise – your brain loves it when you move your legs. Adami et al 2018 found a strong link between leg strength, muscle strength in general and cognitive function. Take those stairs where you can and walk rather than drive.
And of course, take some time to breathe, stretch and mobilise the whole body at the start and finish of any exercise you do to address flexibility.
The good news is that it’s never too late to make positive changes. As a women’s health coach, I have programmes that are specifically designed to meet the needs of women, whatever your age, activity level or life phase. I’ve taught teenagers through to 90-year-old women.
More about Rebecca Haroutunian.
Rebecca is a Womens Health and Fitness Coach, specialising on pelvic floor and core rehabilitation, helping women navigate the transition from Peri to Post Menopause.
She is passionate about helping women reconnect with their bodies, building strength from the inside out. Rebecca is a Holistic Core Restore® coach, this is the gold standard in postnatal and pelvic floor strengthen training.
She is especially interested in helping women in mid-life and beyond. This is because as women transition into menopause the effects of the decline in circulating oestrogen, combined with the ageing process, put women at risk of pelvic floor dysfunction. This might include prolapse, sexual dysfunction and incontinence, and their symptoms can greatly affect their quality of life.
Her foundation course, Holistic Core Restore® Every Woman, focuses on pelvic floor and core rehab.
References: Exercising in your 40s and beyond.
(1) Heart Disease.
(3) Adami et al 2018
Enjoyed Exercising in your 40s and beyond? Why not read How to boost your midlife skin HERE