Your forties are the prime time to get your fitness levels in check. Why? Well, according to the One You* campaign, launched by the government in March 2016, leading a healthy lifestyle in midlife can double your chances of being fit and well in your 70s and beyond.
At the moment, any spare time you have is spent pottering around the house and playing taxi for your kids. But if this means that exercise has been put on the back burner, then perhaps you should start finding the time and motivation to keep fit – for the sake of your future health.
If the idea of hitting the gym for an hour or two fills you with dread, here are some easy tips to ease you into exercise.
1. Set small goals
Try to change too much too quick and you’ll be setting yourself up for failure. It’s far better to set yourself small, achievable goals. If you haven’t donned a pair of trainers for the best part of a decade, focus on running 5k before signing yourself up to a marathon. Speaking of which, the NHS’ Couch to 5k* is a useful running app for newbies.
2. Walk it off
According to the Walking Works* report, put together by the Ramblers Association and Macmillan Cancer Support, if every person in England walked just half an hour a day, 37,000 lives could be saved every year. Not only can walking help you feel less stressed and more positive, but it can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and even dementia, says the report.
Got a smartphone? If so, download a pedometer app (many are free) and set yourself the 10,000 steps challenge*. It’s thought that walking 10,000 steps a day will allow you to maintain a good fitness level, and being able to track your progress will help to keep you motivated.
3. Try HIIT
HIIT is short for High Intensity Interval Training – and no, it’s not as scary as it sounds. The idea is that you work really hard for a short period of time (usually 20-30 seconds), then engage in less-intense anaerobic exercise, and then repeat.
So, no more “I’m too busy” excuses. Undertaking just three sessions of HIIT a week for four weeks could boost your aerobic fitness by 12%, a BBC study* conducted earlier in 2016 found.
4. Team player
From rugby to rowing, badminton to basketball, why not give a new sport a shot? Exercising as a group will motivate you to keep fit – don’t turn up to training or a match and you’ll be letting the team down, not just yourself.
5. Muscle matter
Strength training is not just for people yearning for a Michelin Man-style physique; in fact, it’s key to combating the effects of middle age – specifically, muscle loss.
The Harvard School of Public Health conducted an extensive study* on this back in December 2014. The fitness habits of 10,500 healthy men aged 40 and over were analysed, with the team discovering that those who lifted weights for at least 20 minutes a day accumulated half as much belly fat over 12 years than those who just did cardio.
If you’re wondering where to start with weight training, you could always book a personal training session or join a class for some group motivation.
Small changes to the way you live can have a huge impact on your future health, and the benefits are sure to last a lifetime!
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