Most people tend to look to heavy cardiovascular exercises as a means to lose weight. While there is definitely a place for cardiovascular workouts, these types of workouts are only one part of the picture. This is especially the case as you age and where those jumps and bends may result in injury. What should a healthy exercise regime for a fit over 40s person look like?

After easing into fitness, this is what those over 40 should aspire to do regularly:

  • moderate aerobic activity for 30 minutes daily (100 steps per minute)
  • muscle strengthening with all major muscle groups three days a week
  • balance exercises two days a week at minimum

A key factor that many forget, is the importance of strength training. Lean muscle mass naturally diminishes with age. Your body fat percentage will increase over time if you don’t do anything to replace the lean muscle you lose over time. Strength training can help you preserve and enhance your muscle mass at any age. Muscles also burn more fat which in turn means that strength training can help you burn fat without the high impact of cardiovascular workouts that can cause injuries.

In a nutshell, strength training has the following benefits:

  • Develop strong bones. By stressing your bones, strength training can increase bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
  • Manage your weight. Strength training can help you manage or lose weight, and it can increase your metabolism to help you burn more calories.
  • Enhance your quality of life. Strength training may enhance your quality of life and improve your ability to do everyday activities. Strength training can also protect your joints from injury. Building muscle also can contribute to better balance and may reduce your risk of falls. This can help you maintain independence as you age.
  • Manage chronic conditions. Strength training can reduce the signs and symptoms of many chronic conditions, such as arthritis, back pain, obesity, heart disease, depression and diabetes.
  • Sharpen your thinking skills. Some research suggests that regular strength training and aerobic exercise may help improve thinking and learning skills for older adults

Strength training does not necessarily mean that you spend endless hours at the gym lifting heavy and intimidating dumbells. There are many exercises with little or no equipment such as pushups, pullups, planks, lunges and squats which you can do from home although we would recommend that you seek the help of a professional trainer (at least initially) to ensure that you get the technique of such exercises right.

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