Keeping fitness motivation high is hard at any age, however in your forties, it's even more so. With work and family pressures piling up and bad habits proving even more difficult to break, finding the time or the energy to prioritise fitness can prove near enough impossible. However, chances are that with the right advice it needn't take a back seat. Read on to see what some of the best fitness experts around had to say about looking and feeling great in your forties…
Common fitness concerns
Other than weight loss and overall fitness, Stephen Price , Founder of SP&Co has found that his clients also look to improve sleep patterns, aid digestion, increase energy and mobility and relieve the greater degree of muscle soreness suffered post-training.
According to fitness expert James Osborn, the main obstacle for 41-50 year olds (and generally as we get older), is a decreased basal metabolic rate (BMR) which makes it harder to lose weight. In addition to an effective training regimen, he advises: “They will most likely need to re-address their diet as they’ll need less kilocalories to stay the same weight.”
The best exercises
Resistance training: If you’re a beginner when it comes to resistance and weight training, it’s never too late to start. It’s one of the best ways to increase metabolism and improve overall fitness. According to James, “It’s a great way to address the issue with your changing body composition and build muscle instead of fat.” He adds, “Special recommendations for this age group usually include old injuries/surgeries that have caused weakness to certain areas of the body and need to be taken into account when training. A full background check into activity levels and injuries should be done before starting any programme.”
High intensity training: In order to kickstart your metabolism, James recommends incorporating an activity such as circuits into your exercise regime. Not only will this increase stamina, but it will also encourage fat loss and help achieve a more toned, leaner physique. As a rule of thumb, aim to work at a high intensity for at least one of your sessions per week.
To aid digestion: Stephen recommends relaxation breathing exercises, gentle hatha yoga poses and abdominal massage incorporated into your regular routine.
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To address muscle soreness: “Muscle soreness can be helped by self myofascial foam rolling before and after your workouts - this also helps to improve recovery time, range of movement, neuromuscular efficiency and muscular imbalance,” says Stephen.
So what exactly is self myofascial foam rolling? Stephen explains, “It’s basically where you use your own bodyweight to roll out tight areas on a foam roller - these can be bought in loads of places for under £20 and are an incredibly useful piece of equipment - could save you a fortune on massage and save a heap of time on less effective stretching routines."
To boost motivation and energy levels: Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to motivating yourself to get down the gym on the greyest and rainiest of Saturday mornings. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for another. Stephen’s found that one of the most motivating elements for his clients is when they’ve found an exercise and nutrition regime which provides results; there’s nothing better than when you start seeing the fruits of your labour.
This is a key element of what he and his team look to accomplish: “At SP&Co, we use self-assessment. Every session, our clients grade their own progress physically and emotionally. This has helped with motivation and also creates an awareness or reinforces that exercise and trying to make the right nutritional choices that lead to long term health benefits - not just a quick fix yo-yo approach.” So keep an open mind about trying out new things, track your progress and see what works for you.
James recommends working out around three times a week. However, this is dependent on how active you’ve been beforehand and also taking into account any ailing aches and pains. It’s important to start slowly and to ensure that correct supervision is sought to prevent injury and to learn good habits and proper form.
The best exercise classes
Stephen emphasises the importance of finding out what works best for you after trying out a range of different types of classes. Not only will this give you a greater awareness of what’s out there, but also which exercises address particular physical and emotional needs.
To begin with, Stephen recommends trying one restorative class such as gentle yoga, t’ai chi or meditation and then trying one high-paced class such as dynamic yoga, body pump or spinning. Then incorporate, “classes or activities you love doing but also recognise the benefits of - that way you become much smarter at doing a schedule that works for you and are able to pick the right options for you at the right time,” he suggests.
Answers to common fitness class problems
And finally, Stephen recommends the following in order to tailor your workout plan even more:
a) ‘I’m struggling with sleep, I’m anxious and I’ve had a long week at work, I can only train late at night.’
Your restorative class option would be best here.
b) ‘I’m sluggish and low in energy, have zero motivation, and struggle to get out of bed.’
You need a high impact class first thing in the morning to recruit loads of muscle mass, shock your sympathetic nervous system and spark yourself back into life.