Exercise After 40? Read This First!
It’s been a long time since I wrote. Personal things came up as they do in Life. But in Life, you handle them and then you get back on the horse again! We’re going to talk about something very exciting today. How to actually start exercising if you’re 35, 40 or above.
Last time, I shared with you the most important part of exercise – the Mindset. If you’ve read and answered the questions in that article, it’s time to start doing.
But first, there’s something really important you must know, if you want your exercise quest to be safe, successful, and sustainable.
Here it is!
(Watch the video by clicking this link)
If you haven’t exercised in years, you might be daunted by the host of options available today.
Today it’s no longer as simple as: Should I do weights or cardio?
It’s more like: Should I do circuit training, TRX, kettlebells, crossfit, HIIT, Tabata, P90X, Zumba, or…. The options go on.
Here’s the first thing to know – Starting exercise is not rocket science!
Sure, we all want to do the research to get the biggest back for the buck (or for getting off our butt) I notice this especially when we’re in our 30s, 40s or more. That kind of research and knowledge acquisition just feels so good doesn’t it? Like we’re actually DOING SOMETHING. Except that what we’re doing is often just PROCRASTINATION. And often we let analysis paralysis stop us from the most important thing we really need to do – TAKE ACTION!
So we’re not going to fall into that trap.
That said, if you’re over 35, there are some necessary preliminaries.
Now I know what you’re thinking: Get ON with it already!
Trust me on this one. In 20 years working with people in their 30s, 40s or more, I’ve found some understanding is crucial to success if you want to develop lasting exercise habits and lifestyle changes:
1. Safety – are you safe to exercise in the first place?
2. Understand Exercise – what constitutes exercise, so you don’t waste your effort doing what doesn’t move the needle.
3. Know Your Beginning Goals – so your initial targets are realistic, achievable, and small steps towards success
So first, safety!
I’m sure you want to start exercise to ADD possibilities to your Life, and not take away anything you’re enjoying right now! But I’ve seen countless people get too eager to start, ignore this, and then run into trouble and misfortune. Either they got injured, or worsened a condition they didn’t even know about. We don’t want that!
So, get clearance from your doctor first, especially if you haven’t done any health screening at all! Here is an example of what’s included and rough prices if you’re in Singapore:
Now, there will always be someone who, for whatever reason doesn’t want to see a doctor. In that case, there’s a questionnaire known as the PAR-Q. It’s a series of seven questions and if you answer yes to any of them, go get clearance from your doctor.
If it’s no for all of them, chances are good you can start exercising at low to moderate intensity. So that’s the disclaimer out of the way!
What IS exercise?
Many people assume they’re exercising when they’re really not doing anything that will actually move the needle. Then, they don’t get results, become disappointed, and quit. In actuality, if they had just put their efforts into the right things, they would have been rewarded for their efforts and their time. So let’s understand what exercise really is.
While all exercise is physical activity, not all physical activity is exercise.
This diagram shows the relationship.
Exercise is deliberately planned and structured physical activity with a purpose: improve physical fitness.
And what’s physical fitness? It’s your ability to:
1. Meet ordinary demands of daily life comfortably e.g. carrying groceries, climbing stairs
2. Meet unusual demands safely and effectively. e.g. move furniture, jump out of the way of a vehicle
So walking to the MRT on the way to work every day is good physical activity, but it’s not exercise. We’re aiming to do some real exercise in this quickstart program.
Overall Concept of the Quickstart
When you’re starting to exercise for the first time in years, start slow, with easy to achieve, minimally disruptive goals. That gives you confidence and motivation and sets the stage for something sustainable. Slow and steady really does win the race!
Right now, we’re not going to ask for huge muscles or an impressive 5k run time. Instead, here’s what we want:
1. WAKE up the body. After years of inactivity, you want to restart your movement machine! But first, you’re going to start oiling that machine, and experience some energy use.
2. Incorporate simple movements into your day. Create a habit of moving, with minimum disruption to your Life.
3. Improve function fitness. We first work on building useful fitness. The kind that lets you play with your kids without worrying about back injury, climb the stairs without huffing or puffing, or even get out of bed without pain! So running after your kids become fun, you’ll be less stiff in the morning and you’ll have more energy. This little bit will already be an obvious improvement to your quality of Life that leads you hungering for more!
The Quickstart Components
Physical fitness comprises many components. You may have heard of muscle strength, muscle endurance, cardiorespiratory fitness, flexibility, balance, core stability, body composition and so on.
But to keep things simple, we’ll go with the big three for now. Cardio, strength, flexibility.
Why three? Because these are the ones that will give you the maximum bang for your buck in terms of both fitness and health, at least initially. Working on these will help you develop some of the other components because of overlapping effects, or simply as a side benefit. So there’s no need to get too anal about it.
Final tip: I suggest you do the Quickstart while watching TV. That way, you get to do two things at once – get fit and healthy, and work in some recreation at the same time. Then you won’t have to carve out another special slot just for exercise. You’ll associate exercise with something relaxing and fun (unless you put on a horror film… might help your cardio though!) and that’s what we’d like. A positive association with exercise from the get go.
Next, let’s get to the program!