After the celebrations for your big 4–0 die down, you’ll soon realise that you are losing muscle mass at a more rapid rate.
In fact, by the age of 40 you’d have likely lost up to 10% of your muscle mass (especially if you didn’t follow our advice for your 30s), which effectively means you may be burning around 100 fewer calories per day than you were 10 years ago.
You also need to start paying careful attention to your bone health as osteoporosis becomes a bigger concern, especially as you approach menopause.
In your 40s
Accordingly, at this age, your efforts in the gym need to be taken up a notch, with more work against resistance and added load-bearing exercises to maintain muscle tissue and strengthen bones, cartilage and tendons and ligaments.
However, you also want to start adding in more cardio to strengthen the cardiovascular system, particularly the heart, to maintain optimal function as you age.
Supplement your efforts
It’s also time to make a dietary shift to fortify your body with more vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin D, calcium and magnesium. For these reasons, a greater focus on supplementation during this period of your life may be warranted – just consult your doctor to determine exactly what is lacking from your diet and which products are best suited to meet these specific needs.
Your 40s are also an important time to start considering your mobility and functional everyday strength, to ensure you age well and can be self-sufficient well into your later years. For these reasons, adding workouts such as yoga, Pilates and mobility work to your weekly training regimen is highly recommended, if you haven’t already done so in your 30s.
… keep eating a healthful, balanced diet that contains sufficient protein.
… consume more healthy, natural fats in your diet and reduce slightly the amount of carbohydrates you eat to meet changing macronutrient requirements as you age. This is particularly important to maintain cognitive function as you age (fats are essential for brain and nerve function).
… adjust down your daily calorie intake based on your daily energy expenditure, slowing metabolism and changing body composition.
… get regular endocrine function tests to pre-empt any of the conditions that become more prevalent during this period in your life.
… skip the cardio and mobility or stretching. Your exercise habits need to change to meet the physical demands of a changing body.
… rely solely on popping pills and mixing powders to maintain your health and vitality. Stick to a programme of regular movement, with lots of exercise, and a natural whole food diet.
No matter your age, always remember that the lifestyle choices you make today will either slow down or speed up the physiological changes associated with ageing. So, don’t just think of the short-term goals and benefits of exercise, or the short-lived highs of bad food and unhealthy practices such as binge drinking and smoking.
Consider what your actions today will mean for you, your health and your longevity in years to come. Ultimately, the better the choices you make now, the easier it will be to remain fit and healthy well into your 50s, 60s and 70s.
Author: Pedro van Gaalen
When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.