With every decade our bodies change, and so should the way we stay active. We may not have the vigor and vitality of our 20s by the time we reach 40, but that doesn’t mean we can’t embrace the proven benefits of exercise at every age.
Take a look in the mirror and smile because you are in your physical prime. You will never naturally burn more fat or have a faster metabolism than now.
For many of us, our 20s see a busy social life, many takeaway meals, ‘cramming’ study sessions and raging hangovers. Sleep doesn’t usually rank highly in the list of priorities either. But these years are where you lay the foundations for your health and fitness, so it’s important to create positive habits and find activities that keep you motivated so you can stay in the game for the long term.
Despite being a full time student, working part time and living the party hearty lifestyle of a 20 year old, a love of sport kept me active and socially motivated. I signed up for team sports with friends – netball, basketball, indoor rock climbing and touch footy.
Although it sounds like a busy schedule, as you look back on your 20s later in life, you realise it was these years you had more time than ever to get active, without the pressures of work and family life.
This is your moment. The worst of growing up is behind you and the best of your career, your love life and your family is in full swing. With so much going on, it’s also the most dangerous time for slipping off the fitness wagon.
My 30s were filled with the most joyous life-changing events – getting married and having children. Pregnancy and motherhood sure took a toll on my health and fitness. With little time and little energy, I began to lose motivation and like many busy new mums, I gave up playing sport and put my fitness on hold.
A few years and lots of cheesecake later, feeling like a bit of a couch potato, I made some big decisions to turn things around. With a new career and a new outlook on life, I focused on keeping fit and being a good role model for my family.
At this age it’s important to keep moving no matter what life is throwing your way. Take a regular class, join an outdoor training group, walk around the block. You will be better off for dedicating time and making fitness a priority in these years.
Here’s where the last four decades come home to roost. The foundations you laid in your 20s have either set you up with a fitness habit for life or you’ve managed to come a bit unstuck and looking for ways to regain or begin a new physical relationship with yourself.
There are many fantastic changes that come with being more mature and settled in your 40s, but inevitably you will face off against gravity, hormones, stress, career demands, chocolate and all the daily battles that ruin our good intentions.
Exercise in your 40s can feel frustrating. Aches, pains and injuries become the norm – an Achilles tendon rupture was my undoing. But with a ‘can-do’ attitude and (if your budget allows) the expert guidance of a good trainer or physiotherapist, it’s still possible to maintain a fit lifestyle.
If there was a secret to discovering the fountain of youth in your 40s, bodyweight training is it. Think push-ups, planks, dips, lunges and squats – exercises that use your own body weight as the source of resistance. As the backbone of strength training, it keeps your bones, ligaments and tendons strong, while building balance and core strength. When injuries get in the way, look for alternative methods, like training in water. You’ll be surprised by the challenge of an Aqua class or workout.
Fitness in your 40s is about finding what works for you and being consistent. Move your body, stimulate your mind and enjoy the benefits of living a fit life.