Sport activities after 40
After having set up life on an even keel, most people in their 40’s turn their attention to getting their bodies back on track. They either take up a new sport or exercise regime, or pick up the threads of an old one. However, while their spirits are willing, their bones and tendons may not be.
After you cross 40, your body changes—your muscles lose some of their elasticity and your sense of balance and reflexes gets affected. As a result, fatigue sets in early and your reaction time increases, making you more prone to injuries.
“When you are young, your cells keep multiplying and you get less tired. Whereas, at an older age, your body takes longer to recuperate and rebound from muscle fatigue,” says Mumbai-based trainer and fitness consultant Reema Sarin. That’s why it’s important for you to go about fitness after 40 in the right way.
Consult before you begin
Before taking up sport or any rigorous activity, consult your doctor. This is important because strenuous exercise can aggravate heart diseases, joint inflammation or respiratory diseases. Get a complete look-over done by your doctor. Inform her about your exercise plans and heed to her advice to avoid trouble later.
Mumbai-based practitioner, Sujatha Chari advises getting yourself checked for osteopenia (lower than normal bone mineral density) and early osteoarthritis, which sets in around this age. It is also important to keep your blood sugar and blood pressure in check.
Also discuss with your doctor the activities that you should avoid. For instance, cycling and stepping exercises may not be recommended for those with knee problems.
“Overuse injuries are the most common and occur in the feet, ankles, shins, knees, hips or back. You should be careful not to do too much too soon. Build up the time, intensity and impact slowly and wear well-fitting footwear to avoid injuries,” says Kelli Calabrese, American fitness, nutrition and lifestyle expert.
So start gradually and slowly step up momentum. For instance, if you plan to jog, first start by walking. And don’t increase the pace more than ten percent at a time per week. Practice the swings and movements for games like badminton, tennis or golf before starting a round. Rushing things may give you a nagging injury.
When at rest, our muscles are cold and stiff—more so, if they haven’t seen any strenuous exercise for long. The first thing to do is warm them up—take a brisk walk or do some spot jogging.
Sarin advises a warm-up of at least 5 – 7 minutes, followed by a 5-minute low-impact cardio, wherein you do fast walking and other aerobic exercises. This helps the muscles lose their stiffness and gets them ready for more arduous work.
It’s mandatory to stretch at the end of your routine, when your muscles are supple and stretch easily. Stretching gives muscles time to relax and cool down sufficiently. Never stretch before a game, but always after.
Know your limits
A middle-aged person should remember that she is no more a spring chicken of 20. The passage of time has shown its effects and they must be respected. It is important to know your limits and adhere to them. Observe the impact a particular exercise has on your body. Proceed if only it is favourable; do not try to impress anyone including you.
If you feel that you have hurt yourself, stop immediately. Do not try to brave the injury. Distinguish between ordinary muscle soreness and a muscle injury; soreness reduces with time, an injury doesn’t.
Swollen joints, persisting pain (more than a day or two), difficulty using a limb, or sharp shooting pain, are symptoms you shouldn’t ignore. Refer to a doctor immediately. Rest the injured area and suspend activity till it has healed completely.
An ideal plan
According to Kelli Calabrese, American fitness, nutrition and lifestyle expert, your regime should include:
– Cardiovascular conditioning—most days of the week for a minimum of 20 minutes – 60 minutes at moderate to vigorous intensities.
– Strength training—3 days per week on alternating days challenging each major muscle group.
– Stretching—daily. It is best performed at the end of a workout or after a hot shower. Hold each stretch for 10 – 30 seconds and repeat four times.
Below are just a couple of sports well-suited to those of us over 40:
You’re never too old to take up golf. The relaxed pace of the game and the fact that you can ride a golf cart between shots makes it a good choice for sports-minded older Americans. Don’t think that you can’t excel at golf in your 50s or 60s (or 70s?). The PGA Champions Tour’s greatest player of all time is Hale Irwin. He’s 66 and still going strong.
Is walking competitive? Just ask the men and women participating in the 1500m and 5000m power walking events at the Senior Games. However, walking doesn’t have to be a group event. Power walking, walking at a gait of around five miles per hour, is a great, low-impact alternative to jogging. Plus, unlike golf and many other sports, you don’t need a lot of expensive equipment to enjoy and benefit from walking. A good pair of walking shoes will suffice.
Bowling is a thinking man’s (or woman’s) sport, making it a good choice for those over 40. The time between turns in bowling gives participants a chance to sit down for a minute or two while they plot their strategy. Also, most bowling alleys rent shoes and balls, making it an affordable sport.
Though it requires less running than conventional tennis, don’t think that table tennis is a slow-paced sport. Table tennis is good for your heart rate and chasing that little white ball around is actually a good work-out. Plus, it exercises your mind as well as your body. This sport also has the advantage of being a non-contact sport. You’re not going to break bones or get bruised playing table tennis.
Swimming is the ultimate low-impact aerobic exercise. It gives a person all of the benefits of running or cycling without the potential damage to joints and bones. Plus, you don’t have a risk of falling or tripping like you do when you’re out running or on a bike. Swimming also reduces stress, improves muscle tone and reduces the risk of osteoporosis.