Turning 40 and What it Means for Fitness

40 birthdayRecently, I turned 40. It was a monumental event, heralded with much fanfare and celebration. (I may or may not have had a severe headache the next day. Ahem.) In talking with many of my friends about the big 4-0, all of them said the same thing. “Your body will never be the same,” one muttered darkly. When I asked why, she just sighed. “Remember how your body changed after you had a baby or two? It’s just like that, only worse, when you turn 40. It’s all downhill from here.”

I laughed it off, but wondered if there was any truth to the matter.

I may not be OLD yet, but I do know one truth – the older I get, the more work it takes to maintain where I am right now. In my 20s, and partly into my 30s, I could skip an exercise session (or two, or three) and have very little change to my body. I could eat what I wanted, when I wanted (hello, chocolate cake for breakfast, anyone?) and my jeans still fit. Well, starting in my mid-30s, I had to be more vigilant, and I think that this trend is just going to intensify as I get older. What do I plan to do to keep myself in shape and age gracefully?

I find that I am easily bored, but I know that exercise is vital, so I try to keep myself entertained with different forms of exercise. I don’t just walk around the block, I run intervals, changing up the location and the scenery. I might go to the beach and run in the sand, digging with my hands after to build arm muscles. I take boxing class, but add extra bag rounds at the end with my friends. I no longer obsess if I can’t get a full hour of work in, but break it up into multiple ten-minute segments several times a day. I mix it up so that I never get bored and I always have fun.

Food is the other key to this equation, and it too requires more vigilance as I get older. Gone are the days of skipping meals and eating whatever, whenever, now I find that I need to take the time to plan what I’m going to eat and when I’m going to eat it. That said, I try to avoid saying “no.” I don’t say that I’ll never have cupcakes, my own personal arch nemesis, but I know that they need to be a special occasion food.

Taking care of my body means balance, both with regards to good and exercise. The benefits are tangible and long lasting – and will help me to be long lasting as well!

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