Four best exercises for your 40s and beyond
Continuing to exercise even as we age can help with muscle mass and strength
First, the not-so-good news: Starting around age 30, you begin to lose muscle mass. In fact, adults lose three to eight percent of their lean muscle mass per decade. And, by the time you turn 60, your muscle strength will deteriorate at a rate of three percent per year.
“As you age, your body naturally loses muscle mass,” explains Brittany Hartl, Wellness Coordinator with the St. Joseph’s/Candler Wellness Center. “It is important to slow that progression by continuing to challenge your muscles through strength training and cardiovascular exercise.”
So there is good news. Regular exercise not only helps you hold on to muscle mass and strength, but it can also help keep degenerative diseases, such as osteoporosis, and chronic conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, at bay, Hartl adds.
“Not only is it important to maintain an overall healthy physique, but it is equally important to maintain your independence as you age and continue your activities of daily living,” Hartl says. “Exercise also can provide more than just physical benefits, but also social and mental support, especially if you work out in a group setting.”
It’s never too late to improve your strength and maintain muscle mass. Here are four strength-training exercises that can improve muscle mass, especially if you do them at least twice a week.
Squats help keep your hips, thighs and gluteal muscles strong so that you can continue to walk, run and climb stairs easily.
How to do squats: Standing in front of a chair with your feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart, extend your arms in front of you. Slowly bend your knees and sit down in the chair while counting to four, keeping your weight in your heels. Then stand up to the count of two while keeping your knees over your ankles and your back straight. Repeat 10 times, rest for a minute and then do a second set of 10.
Wall push-ups aren’t as hard to do as push-ups on the floor, but they can still help strengthen your arms, shoulders and chest, which can come in handy any time you’re lifting something.
How to do wall push-ups: While facing a wall, stand a little further than arm’s length away and lean your body forward to place your palms at about shoulder-height and shoulder-width apart. Keep your feet planted and do a push-up by bending your elbows and slowly lowering your body toward the wall as you count to four. Then push yourself off the wall by slowly straightening your arms, counting to four once more. Don’t lock your elbows. Repeat 10 times, rest for a minute and then do a second set of 10.
Calf raises strengthen your calves and ankles, which makes walking more enjoyable. They can also fortify your sense of balance and stability.
How to do calf raises: While holding on to a chair or a counter for balance, slowly rise up on your toes as far as you can while counting to four and hold for two to four seconds. Then lower your heels to the floor while counting to four. Repeat 10 times and then rest for a minute before doing a second set of 10.
Bicep curls can help bolster this major arm muscle, which comes in handy when you are lifting groceries or the grandkids.
How to do bicep curls: Stand or sit with dumbbells in each hand with your arms at your sides, palms facing your thighs. As you count to two, rotate your forearms and slowly bend your elbows while lifting the weights – your palms facing in toward your shoulders. Keep your elbows close to your side. Pause, and then slowly lower your dumbbells back down to your thighs as you count to four, ending with your arms again at your side. Repeat 10 times, rest for a minute, and then do another set of 10. When your weights become easier to lift, switch to heavier dumbbells.
If you are interested in joining a workout facility, the Wellness Center at Candler Hospital is open seven days a week and offers many group fitness classes, including the SilverSneakers program for those 65 and older.
To learn more, visit our website or call 912-819-8800.
See these exercises in action: