Lose weight. Exercise. If you are over 40, you’ve heard these things over and over again. You also know that just about every illness that disproportionately hits the African-American community is exacerbated by obesity.
But working out can be hard on tweaky backs and gimpy knees. If you’re overweight, you might barely be able to barely be able to walk much less work out. Or, if you’re an ex-athlete or someone who’s always been athletic, you might have the desire, but can’t afford an injury that could derail not just your fitness goals but your ability to enjoy life.
We consulted with Philadelphia-based fitness trainer Denine Kirby who works with active grown folks about what exercises are best over 40 and what kinds of exercise you should focus on. Here’s what she told us.
What should those over 40 focus on most exercise-wise – stamina, strength or flexibility?
All aspects of physical fitness (cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength/endurance, and flexibility) are important for all people of all ages, of any mobility ability, and all levels of fitness experience. Each aspect is connected and essential to achieve wellness and slow the aging process. For clients over 40, I begin with a focused training regimen that synchronously builds muscular strength and endurance, improves flexibility and balance, and increases power.
What is the best all-around exercise for over-40 folks?
The best exercise for anyone is the one you will do safely, consistently, and progressively. The best all-around exercise is the one in which you are committed to, enjoy, and perform injury-free.
I recommend cardiovascular exercise to keep your heart healthy and your lungs performing optimally. I particularly love cycling and also rowing and swimming as these are all low impact, high-reward methods to improve cardiovascular fitness. Find classes where you connect with your instructor, who plays music you love, and who communicates and demonstrate proper form and technique.
Make it fun, and do it often (minimum 3x per week).
I also recommend functional fitness. Functional fitness exercises train your muscles to work together and prepare them for daily tasks by simulating common movements you might do at home, at work or in sports. Functional fitness focuses on core stability using body weight in addition to many tools such as kettlebells, hand weights, sandbags, suspension training (TRX), slam balls, medicine balls, ropes, etc. to make your workouts progressive, interesting and fun. With functional fitness EVERYTHING IS A CORE EXERCISE.
Suspension training such as TRX introduces an element of instability that challenges your core to improve balance, coordination, muscular endurance and agility to keep you stable, strong, powerful, and prevent falls. strength, balance, flexibility and core stability simultaneously. (minimum 3 days per week)
Yoga, Breathing and Stretching are also recommended to improve flexibility, lower stress, and connected to your body. (minimum 1 day per week; I recommend you breathe every day!)