The Best Exercises if You’re Over 40 from The Best Exercises if You’re Over 40

The Best Exercises if You’re Over 40

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The Best Exercises if You’re Over 40

Being a fit and strong 40+ year old person is not a difficult long-term goal. As the body ages, it is not as responsive or swift, but it can learn. The biggest mistake people make when it comes to their age and working out is allowing themselves to fall into one of two extremes: Completely ignoring that their body changes or believing that they can't work out because of their age, Caitlin Bailey, ACE Certified Personal Trainer and fitness instructor at PhilanthroFIT Training, says. “The best workouts for people over 40 would include multi-joint, compound exercises such as squats combined with a shoulder press,” Bailey says. “Also, a good balance between cardio and strength training workouts with dedicated days for recovery,” she adds.

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Side Leg Raises

They are a great exercise to strengthen muscles at sides of hips, thighs, lower back and buttocks. Stand up and hold on to a chair, for example, for better balance. You can be laying on the floor as well. Lift one leg out to the side, keep your back straight, and bend the other leg just a little bit for support. As with every exercise, don’t rush. Do all movements slowly. While you’re at it, do back leg raises. The method is the same, except you lift one leg behind you. Don’t lean forward though.

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Walk heel-to-toe

How you walk is important for which muscles in your body are working and for overall energy efficiency.  Walking heel to toe is, for humans, the most efficient way. It takes nearly twice as much energy to walk on your toes than it does to land on your heel. In addition to that, if you walk in the toes-to-heels way, then you’re reducing the amount your Achilles tendon stretches, and your soleus muscles (under the knee to the heel) don’t work as much. 

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Toe and Chair Stands

These are a great balance workout (in addition to helping you build your muscle strength). Sit in an armless chair. It’s imperative to keep your back straight and your shoulders relaxed. Lift your arms so they are parallel to the floor and slowly get up. Then slowly sit down. Repeat 10-15 times and don’t use your hands while standing up or sitting back down.

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Weight training

“Exercise in general boosts your metabolism but the more muscle mass you have the higher your metabolism will be and the more calories you will burn,” Bailey says. “Weight training is the best way to achieve this and it will also increase your bone density and help prevent osteoporosis.”

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Aerobics

Aerobic exercises help people burn more calories, keep low cholesterol levels, and improve your heart health. It’s also one of those kinds of exercises that require you to step up your game with time. Start with 5-minute running 2-3 days a week to increase your heart rate. Gradually work towards being able to run for 30 minutes five days a week.

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Squats

Some fitness experts recommend the squat as the one exercise people should do every day if they had no time for anything else.  The most obvious benefit of squats is building your leg muscles – quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. These drills also create an anabolic environment, which promotes body-wide muscle building, improving muscle mass. The squats also activate you glutes and back muscles.

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Bicep curls

This is another favorite exercise, which you can easily do at your desk. It’s important to do arm curls though because they will strengthen the muscles you need when you have to lift pretty much everything. A lot of people swing their arms when they do bicep curls. Be careful not to choose too heavy of a weight. Hammer curls are also great for the biceps.

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Swimming

Swimming activates every muscle in your body. It’s perfect if you don’t like being sweaty because the water keeps you cool even though your heart rate is rising. You can swim for 20 minutes and enjoy the same health benefits as if you were running for 40-50 minutes. It builds endurance, muscle strength and improves cardiovascular fitness. Swimming is also cheap – all you need is a swim suit. It can also be a lot of fun if you take your kids or your friends with you.

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Rowing

Just like squats, many fitness instructors recommend rowing as one of few several exercises people should always make time for because every part of your body is active with each stroke. You spare yourself from doing crunches later because rowing requires core strength so your abdominal muscles get a workout as well. Your heart rate is elevated, you’re doing leg presses and you’re building muscle – all at the same time.

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Lunges

Two sets of 10 reps of dumbbell lunges a few days a week can be more beneficial than you think. If the weights are too much, loosen them. The lunge is imperative to preserving squat strength. Stand next to a chair if you need some support. Your feet should be a shoulder-width apart. Take a large step forward. Make sure to bend your knee and lower your hips, but don't move your knee past your toes. Repeat about 10-15 times with each leg.

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Shoulder Shrugs

Shoulder exercises can help reverse some of the muscle loss and deterioration that occurs as people get older. Shoulder shrugs improve mobility. They help strengthen your neck as well. You can be standing or sitting. It’s good to lift light weights while doing shoulder shrugs. Your feet must be shoulder-width apart. Raise your shoulders upwards, backward and down. Repeat about 20 times.

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HIIT Training

High-intensity interval training, also called HIIT workouts, boost your metabolism and burn more fat than conventional cardio. The biggest draw to a HIIT workout, short but high-intensity exercises, is its ability to keep the body burning fat even after the workout is over “One minute walking, one minute sprinting, one minute jogging, one minute sprinting etc., Bailey says. “This format keeps me most engaged and helps to avoid boredom within my workout.”

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Seated Triceps Dips

Triceps dips are tricky. Form is crucial. Progress it by starting with bench dips first (and you can assist with your legs), then gradually building up to the bodyweight triceps dips. Triceps extensions and push-ups are also great for the triceps, Bailey says.

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Cardio

Cardio still plays a very important role in keeping your heart and lungs healthy and strong, Bailey says. “The biggest difference is that as you age your body will need more recovery time.” That means longer recovery periods between sets during your workout as well as more dedicated recovery days between workouts. Remember that walking is a very good cardio exercise, even though it doesn’t feel that way because we do it every day. Focus on the calves. Ankle calf muscle function when running is reduced with age, according to a study.

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Planks

“It's very important to maintain a strong core as you age to protect your back from injury, Bailey says.  After 30 the body hormonally changes and people start to gain weight easier, especially around their the belly. Planks are an extremely effective isometric move. You use your own bodyweight to maintain the stability of your entire core, which is exactly what the core muscles are supposed to do, and prevent back pain. Bailey also recommends back extensions.  

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Deadlifts

It had been proven that deadlifts and squats, which put an added load on the spine and hips, help prevent osteoporosis, Bailey says. When done properly, deadlifts can be one of the best things for your back. You can lift anything from the ground and not feel pain. But you have to make sure you keep a straight line from the ears to the hips. Move only through the hips.

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Leg Raises

Forget about crunches. They can be dangerous for your back. Do leg raises instead, if you want to work on your abs. They are a great beginner’s strength exercise. Lower the opposite leg to the ground because it’s low intensity. Make it a little more challenging by adding weight by holding a dumbbell in between your feet.

The Best Exercises if You’re Over 40