We all know that exercise is important to maintain our overall health. As we age, however, physical fitness can easily be put on the back burner as our priorities shift with family life and work. If your exercise routine doesn’t already incorporate strength training, then we recommend you get started because there are many benefits to strength training over 40 that can improve your life for the better.
As we age, our joints stiffen up and we lose muscle mass, bone density, strength, flexibility, and balance. A lot of us also gain weight. Many of us think this is just ‘part of getting old’ and unavoidable, but there is plenty of research that proves otherwise. Not only can strength training after 40 stop this decline but for some ailments, it can actually reverse it.
Maintaining bone density becomes more important as we age, to reduce our risk of injury (fragile bones) and disease like osteoporosis. Weight training will help reduce the rate at which you lose bone density and is your best defence against ailments that could limit your mobility in old age. In summary, your skeleton will be stronger. Strength training will also increase your lean muscle which protects your joints to help them last longer with fewer ‘niggles’. Increased muscle fibre and motor control through strength training will also help improve stability, balance and coordination. Plus, the evidence shows that strength training yields a positive impact on your sleep and overall mood.
Besides all this, the more mobile and physically capable you are as you get older, the more you can do which can help you live a more fulfilling and active life – like being able to play freely with your grandchildren and have active holidays.
It can seem daunting picking up a new fitness regime no matter what stage of life you’re in, but starting strength training over 40 doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. If you have no experience with strength training, ask a professional for help. It’s important to find a coach who will get you started with the basics and coach you through gradual progressions. It is not wise to jump straight into a high-intensity training regime, requiring you to perform a high volume of reps at speed, or in a low supervision environment. Getting caught up in the hype of ‘fast functional fitness’ with no base behind you and a limited understanding of how to perform movements correctly will put you at high risk of injury.
To get maximum strength gains, aim to do functional movements that build strength (under the supervision of a good coach) 2 or more times a week to strengthen your whole body.
For those of you who are well over 40 and thinking to yourself that it is too late to start, think again. It’s never too late to start strength training and enjoy the benefits. It doesn’t matter if you’re 20, 40 or 80, you still have the ability to gain muscle and strengthen your body.
If you aren’t sure where to start or aren’t confident in performing the movements, consult a fitness professional or exercise physiologist and get an individualised program to suit your body and your needs.
Strength training at any stage in life is extremely beneficial, and the results you will feel are all the more life-changing as you approach and pass mid-life. If you’d like to get started or have questions, reach out to one of our fitness professionals to learn more about strength training over 40.