Men, exercise after 40 becomes even more important as we continue to age. No matter how much or how little you exercised in the past, it is never too late to start again. But what is important is that you and I commit ourselves to improving our health starting now. According to research by the Duke University School of Medicine, our bodies and health begin to decline before the age of 50 and it continues to decline as we get older.
As we get older, we lose bone and muscle mass. We lose testosterone over time – 1% a year after the age of 40. We increase our odds at cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis (thin bones) over time. We begin to pick up weight, (3 – 4 pounds a year) and it becomes harder to drop the added weight along with your increasing LDL (bad cholesterol).
This is where regular exercise after 40 comes into play. Exercise is extremely important in helping to guard against the enemies of the 40 and over population.
So, if you and I want to continue to enjoy our time with our kids, our grandkids; and do all the things that bring us joy; this is not done by living longer but living a high quality of life with great health.
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The changing health needs of men after 40
The changing health needs of men after 40 encompass various aspects of physical, mental, and emotional well-being and the need for exercise after 40 is vital. Men as we age, certain health concerns become more prominent, and addressing these needs through appropriate lifestyle choices becomes crucial.
Here are some key areas to consider and where regular exercise can help:
- Cardiovascular Health: The risk of heart disease and related conditions increases with age. Regular exercise after 40, a heart-healthy diet, managing blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and avoiding tobacco use are important for maintaining cardiovascular health.
- Bone Health: Osteoporosis, commonly associated with women, is also a concern for men after 40. Engaging in weight-bearing exercises, ensuring sufficient calcium and vitamin D intake, and avoiding excessive alcohol consumption can help support bone health.
- Weight Management: Metabolism tends to slow down with age, making weight management more challenging. Adopting a balanced diet, engaging in regular physical activity, and monitoring portion sizes can help maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of obesity-related conditions.
- Mental Health: Emotional well-being is as important as physical health. Men over 40 may face increased stress, anxiety, or depression due to various life factors. Seeking support, practicing stress management techniques, and maintaining social connections are vital for mental health.
Benefits of exercise after 40
Regular exercise, especially resistance training, helps build and maintain muscle strength and mass. This is particularly important as muscle mass tends to decrease with age, leading to a decline in overall strength and functionality. By engaging in exercises that target major muscle groups, men over 40 can improve their muscle tone, increase strength, and enhance physical performance.
Mentally & Emotionally
Exercise is an excellent way to alleviate stress. Physical activity stimulates the release of endorphins, which are natural mood-elevating chemicals in the brain. This can help reduce feelings of stress, tension, and anxiety, promoting a sense of relaxation and well-being.
In addition, regular exercise increases the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine, which play a role in regulating mood.
Exercise has been linked to improved cognitive function, memory, and mental sharpness. Physical activity increases blood flow to the brain, promoting the growth of new neurons and enhancing cognitive performance. Regular exercise can help men over 40 maintain mental agility and reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline.
Exercise has a positive influence on sleep quality and duration. Regular physical activity can help regulate sleep patterns, promote deeper and more restful sleep, and reduce insomnia symptoms. Improved sleep contributes to better mental and emotional well-being.
Engaging in aerobic exercises like jogging, cycling, swimming, or brisk walking strengthens the heart muscle. Regular exercise increases the heart’s efficiency, allowing it to pump blood more effectively throughout the body. This reduces the workload on the heart and lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Regular exercise is associated with a decreased risk of developing heart disease, including conditions such as coronary artery disease, heart attacks, and strokes. Exercise helps maintain healthy blood pressure levels, lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol, increases HDL (good) cholesterol, and improves overall blood lipid profiles, reducing the risk of plaque buildup in the arteries.
Consistent exercise can help lower high blood pressure, a common concern for men over 40. Physical activity enhances blood vessel function, promoting vasodilation and improving blood flow. This, in turn, reduces the strain on the blood vessels, leading to a decrease in blood pressure levels.
Regular exercise improves blood circulation throughout the body, delivering oxygen and nutrients to the muscles and organs more efficiently. It also stimulates the growth of new blood vessels, improving collateral circulation and reducing the risk of blockages or restricted blood flow.
Exercise has anti-inflammatory effects on the body. Chronic inflammation is a risk factor for heart disease. Regular physical activity helps lower systemic inflammation markers and promotes a healthier inflammatory response, contributing to better cardiovascular health.
Exercise increases the number of calories burned by the body. Engaging in physical activities such as cardio exercises (running, cycling, swimming) or strength training helps burn calories and contributes to creating a calorie deficit. When combined with a balanced diet, this can lead to weight loss or weight maintenance.
Regular exercise can boost metabolism, which is the rate at which the body burns calories. As men age, their metabolism tends to slow down, making weight management more challenging. By incorporating exercise into their routine, men over 40 can increase their metabolic rate, allowing them to burn more calories throughout the day, even at rest.
Exercise can help reduce body fat, particularly when combined with a healthy diet. Cardiovascular exercises like jogging, cycling, or HIIT workouts can burn a significant number of calories and facilitate fat loss. Strength training exercises also play a role by increasing muscle mass, which can lead to a higher resting metabolic rate and greater fat-burning potential.
Participating in group exercise classes, team sports, or fitness communities can provide opportunities for social interaction and connections. Engaging in regular exercise can help men over 40 expand their social networks, foster friendships, and combat feelings of isolation or loneliness.
Regular exercise plays a significant role in overall well-being and life satisfaction. It contributes to a balanced and healthy lifestyle, promotes a positive outlook on life, and enhances overall quality of life for men over 40.
How Much Exercise Do You Need?
We know that exercise is important for everyone to live a much more healthy and happy life, but what is exercise? We hear the word “exercise” and we immediately think of working out at the local gym, taking a jog in the park, playing a game of pickup basketball, or spending time with your spouse in a game of tennis.
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH)
|Exercise is a subset of physical activity that is planned, structured, and repetitive and has as a final or an intermediate objective for the improvement or maintenance of physical fitness. Physical fitness is a set of attributes that are either health- or skill-related.|
Ok, so if you are like me, you probably re-read that definition two or three times. In short, exercise means to get up and move your body as you are able. What I found interesting is the phrase “physical activity”, which does not necessarily constitute gym or sports-related activity. Research published by The PMJ (Post Medical Journal) defined physical activity not only as exercise but as “incidental activity” such as housework, shopping, gardening or simply taking a walk. The kind of physical activity is less important compared to the frequency and intensity of the activity being performed.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has established a Physical Activity Guideline that reads,
- Adults should move more and sit less throughout the day. Some physical activity is better than none. Adults who sit less and do any amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity gain some health benefits.
- For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity physical activity.
- Or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity.
- Or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity. Preferably, aerobic activity should be spread throughout the week.
- Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond the equivalent of 300 minutes (5 hours) of moderate-intensity physical activity a week.
- Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity and that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these activities provide additional health benefits.
The key guidelines for adults also apply to older adults. In addition, the following key guidelines are just for older adults:
- As part of their weekly physical activity, older adults should do multicomponent physical activity that includes balance training as well as aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.
- Older adults should determine their level of effort for physical activity relative to their level of fitness.
- Older adults with chronic conditions should understand whether and how their conditions affect their ability to do regular physical activity safely.
- When older adults cannot do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week because of chronic conditions, they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow.
Can exercise get any more complicated? We now have to discern between Moderate-Intensity Aerobic Physical Activity, Vigorous-Intensity Aerobic Physical Activity and a mix between the two, along with balance and muscle training – Ay-ay-ay!
But no worries, I’m here to help you understand this better.
Moderate-Intensity Aerobic Physical Activity (Moderate-Intensity Aerobic Exercises)
- Walking briskly
- Mowing the lawn
- Light bicycling
- Water Aerobics
- Golf (Walking the course)
Vigorous-Intensity Aerobic Physical Activity (Vigorous-Intensity Aerobic Exercises)
- Speed Walking (4+ mph)
- Bicycling (10+ mph)
- Tennis (Playing singles)
1. In case you were wondering, yes, there is a Light Intensity Aerobic Physical Activity. But it does not increase your heart rate.
2. To meet the HHS guidelines, you can mix both Moderate and Vigorous-Intensity Aerobic Physical Activities during the week.
3. To help you know if you are performing Moderate and Vigorous-Intensity Aerobic Physical Activities correctly you can perform the “talk test.” If you are able to talk, but not sing while performing Moderate-Intensity Aerobic Physical Activities then you are doing it right. If you are unable to say more than a few words without taking a breath while performing Vigorous-Intensity Aerobic Physical Activities then you are doing it right.
Fitness Tips for Men in Their 40s and Beyond
- FIRST AND FOREMOST, BEFORE STARTING ANY EXERCISE ROUTINE, WORK WITH YOUR DOCTOR.
- If you take medication(s) and if your goal is to reduce/get off the medication(s); BE SURE TO CONTINUE TO TAKE ALL MEDICATIONS AS PRESCRIBED WORKING WITH YOUR DOCTOR.
- Set a health goal and create a plan that includes exercise and a healthy eating plan to achieve your goal.
- Depending on your current activity level, start slow, and build your way up to the HHS guidelines.
- Don’t eat two hours prior to exercising, but drink plenty of water before, during, and after.
- Warm-up before you exercise and cool down after you exercise.
- Be sure to wear clothing that is comfortable and right for exercising.
- Listen to your body. As we age, we do not recover as quickly as we did when we were younger. So, don’t ignore aches and pains or nagging injuries. It is better to take a day or two off as opposed to being down and out for an extended period of time.
- Choose activities that you enjoy. Chances of you sticking with an exercise routine greatly increase when you enjoy what you are doing.
- Learn how to properly use all gym equipment as well as the correct form for each exercise you perform.
- As you age it is extremely important that you remain active through physical activity. Physical activity can range from exercising to mowing the lawn. The type of physical activity is less important than the level of intensity of the activity being performed.
- You should aim for at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of the two.
- It is important to also add balance and strength training into your routine.
Go to the comment section and let us know your thoughts.
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