While the advent of muscle loss and decreased cardiovascular fitness occur slightly with the onset of age, they are not the normal result of ageing, but primarily the result of a sedentary lifestyle.
The average inactive person suffers a loss of up to 40% of their aerobic capacity and muscle mass by the time they reach the age of 65. This, however, can be prevented by remaining physically active as you age.
Recent studies have shown a 15- to 20-year reduction in biological age is possible with simple lifestyle changes, such as implementing an exercise programme that incorporates strength and cardio and changing to a healthy eating plan.
Studies have also shown that older people respond very positively to aerobic exercise and strength training, so don't put limits on yourself just because you're over 40. Your fitness programme should be based more on your goals and fitness level than on your age.
Tips for starting an over-40 fitness programme
Check with your doctor
Visit your doctor for a medical check before starting any form of exercise. If you have been inactive for a long time or have any existing health conditions, you need to get medical clearance before you start to exercise.
Evaluate your current fitness level
To develop an effective over-40 fitness programme that will suit your needs and goals, you need to know what your current fitness level is and what condition your body is in.
Get assessed by a professional or a personal trainer, who will evaluate your cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength, and endurance, flexibility, and body composition, all of which play a vital role in the type of exercise programme you will need.
Define your goals
Set your objectives and what you would like to achieve. Do you want to lose weight? Do you wish to run a half marathon? Do you want to maintain a level of fitness?
Goal setting is an important part of any exercise programme and will motivate you to work at it. But remember to be realistic – wanting to get your 20s body back might be easier said than done.
Consistency and hard work will always render results, so be consistent with your fitness programme and routine and work hard at it. You will begin to see the results and enjoy the benefits derived from it.