We all want to learn how to feel younger at 40 and beyond. Aging can be empowering, but if not embraced actively, it can slow us down too. If you’ve ever thought that you’re “too old” for fitness, consider this: only 30 percent of how we age is genetic. The remaining 70 percent is the lifestyle choices that we make; it’s the choice to be vital, energized, powerful, and in control. That’s why I always ask my patients to make choices to exercise. It’s not always the most fun choice we can make at the moment (although it can be), but in the long run, that’s where the benefits really add up. Every single part of our bodies is positively affected by a commitment to being active. We know that exercise can even increase brain function, which is key for maintaining independence as we age.
No matter your age, your body can benefit from adopting healthy exercise habits and lifestyle choices every day. So my personal challenge to you is to “F.A.C.E.” your future; that’s how we’ll feel younger at 40 and at any age. Here’s what I mean by this:
“F” stands for flexibility. Flexibility improves our mobility, posture, muscle coordination and reduces the risk of injuries. When our days become predictable and geographically bound, it’s easy to only use the same X muscles and to use them lightly. Ideally, you should be stretching every major body part every single day. For each stretch that you do, remember that it will only get easier with each day as your body adapts and becomes more and more flexible. Start somewhere, even if you don’t have much flexibility at the beginning, and keep working on it!
Start with a simple lunge, where you stand with both feet about shoulder-width apart. Then, step one leg out in front of your body, bending at the knee, while keeping your other knee as straight as you can. Gently drive your hips down towards the floor (Mayo Clinic). Hold this position for 30 seconds before switching to the other side.
Do you really want to learn how to feel younger at 40? Well, then we need to focus on our heart health. We need to do 30 minutes of brisk exercise at least every other day in order to burn 2,000 calories per week to help maintain a healthy heart. Walking is an excellent low-impact aerobic exercise from which any person of any age can benefit. If you want to up the ante a little, try jogging or swimming (American Heart Association). At-home cycling classes are also becoming a popular and fun way to squeeze aerobic exercise into your work from home routine.
Carry a Load
Whether you use your own body weight, iron dumbbells, or resistance bands, carrying a load is a key step in “facing” our futures with physical activity. As an added bonus, you can even achieve that beautiful hourglass shape by carrying a load with your abdominal muscles, or core, thereby strengthening and toning those very important muscles. Want to find your perfect “workout from home” routine using minimal equipment? See our blog here!
Equilibrium & Balance
One in three people over age 65 fall each year. Each year, 3 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries. When women fall and break a hip, 50 percent of the time, they do not return to their pre-injury level of function. To help prevent debilitating falls, work on your equilibrium and balance every day. This can be as simple as performing an easy exercise that you build upon as your body becomes stronger and more balanced. Start by standing on one leg with your arms at your sides and your core engaged. When you start to get really good at this, start moving your arms. Then, try doing this with your eyes closed. It will be a challenge at first, but with time, you’ll be amazed at what your body can do.
The Bottom Line
If you want to learn how to feel younger at 40, you have to FACE your future; There’s truly never an age where we can’t make remarkable improvements in our bodies and really change the way we age. Of course, some sweat equity will be involved, but the good news is that the work gets easier and easier as our bodies become stronger and fitter. This will take time, but look ahead at your goal and take small, meaningful steps towards it each day.
Remember to keep your “why” at the forefront of your motivations. No, this “why” isn’t to fit into that little black dress again, and heck, it’s not even to “feel younger at 40”, it’s much deeper than that. If you want to feel younger – why? Is it so you can be more active, resilient, and independent as your children and grandchildren age? Maybe you want to be more mobile so you can finally see all those places you’ve always dreamed of. You are worth the energy, the sweat, the time. Your health is in your hands – so run with it!