Getting back into shape in late middle age

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Getting back into shape in late middle age

  • Yilmaz Rona

    Is there a particular program that people would recommend for someone who is in their mid forties who is wanting to get back into shape?

     

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  • Kieran Keshan

    Hi Yilmaz, I’m not sure if you have any experience with training in the past but here’s my two cents worth.

    Firstly, I would recommend finding something that you enjoy doing, otherwise you’ll find it hard to get motivation and you’ll give up too easily.

    I’m still struggling myself due to reoccurring injuries (not from fitness) but I’ve always enjoyed martial arts and found them to be an excellent way to get into shape. I also find the training helps to de-stress the mind and body at the same time.

    At the start of the year I tried a kick-boxercise class as an attempt to get back into shape. I had the mentality that the class wasn’t a real kick boxing class but I soon realised it was a great way to get back into shape when I was peeling my sweating body off the mats from exhaustion. These classes are normally inexpensive, $10 a pop.

    Unfortunately I had to quit because my injuries flarred up again, but at the moment I’m doing yoga to try and sort myself out before I try anything high intensity again. So I would also advocate yoga, or at least learn basic stretching techniques to incorporate after a work out.

    I would recommend any style of high intensity training, particularly circuit training, It’s a bit more exciting than staring at yourself in the mirror for an hour lifting weights. But having said that, I think any form of exercise is great.

    You can do plenty of workouts with just your own body weight and simple things like a skipping rope, punching bag, some stairs etc. You don’t need fancy equipment. The internet has all the ideas you’ll ever need.

    If you want to just start training at home on your own, perhaps you could get some ideas from some “caveman” training sites. Generally using the most basic of items to achieve the goal.

    One style of training I would recommend looking into is high intensity interval training (HIIT) / Tabata. It’ll kick your arse and you’ll get results relatively fast if you continue to use this method. And always remember to throw in some burpees ūüôā

    The most important aspect of fitness training I would have to stress is education, the more you know the better your workout will be and the less chance you’ll have getting injured. If you’re not confident enough to train yourself, I would get some personal training sessions to begin with, then you can learn the correct techniques and avoid injury. We only get one body and it’s important to look after it. And in case you’re wondering, I’m not a personal trainer.

    Here’s some inspiration….and idea’s of course.

     

    http://www.gymboss.com/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-intensity_interval_training

    http://www.tabatatimer.com/

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    foobar

     

    Postscript. I see just now that no one was saying that the mid-40s was late middle age. I shan’t erase, however, for it was the perfect way into this:

     

    Mid-40s is late middle age? Oy, my friend. Think of your 40s
    as slightly post-adolescent and the battle is all-but-won. For
    the rest just ditch the darn car, which is to say, figure out where to live so that you can walk everywhere you need ever be. If that’s impossible you are probably living in a nutty place anyway and it’s high time to transplant.

    It’s not just about the walking; it’s about what comes with it,
    tangible and intangible, including a curious liberation that
    I don’t understand myself. It may be no coincidence that one seldom meets a centenarian who wasn’t “always a great walker.” I happen to know three of the critters, and a big thing for all of them is to get their walk in. Milers they are still.

    Exercise qua exercise? A pox on it all, I say, a pox!

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    Yilmaz Rona

    Walking is great exercise!

     

    I’m fortunate enough to live within walking distance of my work, so I can easily get 12 miles a week merely by walking.

    My doctor has told me no cycling for a few more months, so i am trying to come with an alternate form of aerobic exercise that is gentle on the spine and knees.

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      Daniel Phillips

      Do you have knee and back problems?

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    Frank Marcopolos

    If you haven’t already, you might want to check out “The 4-Hour Body” by Tim Ferriss. It’s revolutionary. Completely changed my life (post-40!)

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    Bart Vandalay

    Yeah really. Mid 40″s seems too early to be concidered late middle age to me.

    Anyways, I highely recommend this little BBC produced documentary about weight loss and exercise:  http://vimeo.com/51836895

    To summarize, Focus less on “working out” in the conventional sense as it does little for weight loss unless you really commit to it like an athlete would. Most people aren’t going to do that consistently for the rest of their life. Instead focus on eating less and living more active in your daily life. In particular, spend less minutes a day sitting. And some research shows that 3 minutes a day of very strenuous¬† exercise is all the “working out” you need.

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    Jeffrey Tucker

    I’ve never written about this topic before because I don’t want to be anyone’s health guru (ha ha!) but I can tell you that there are certain steps you need to take. I’ve been here and know a few things.

    First, a gym membership is tempting but mostly a distraction. It makes you feel like you are doing something but mostly people waste time in a gym. It takes too much time, and time is gigantically valuable for a person in his or her 40s and 50s.

    Second, running is a nice idea (walking too) but I rarely meet anyone who can just start doing this and maintain with any serious commitment. It works for a few weeks and then it just becomes too tempting to stop.

    Third, I really believe in making whatever you do a daily routine, no exceptions ever. The body responds more slowly as you get older, and, in some sense, it needs a daily reminder of what is expected of it.

    This is why I suggest that you get up in the morning, before your shower, and do 10 minutes. No need for more. If you use that time well, you can be in amazing shape in a matter of a month or two. After six, you will be beautiful.

    Here is what I do.

    Military style pushups that work you triceps, shoulders, and upper chest. The way you do them really matters. When I first started these I could only do 5. Now I do three sets of ten alternating with:

    Full-body squats. Again, I do three sets of ten of these every day. You should be able to see your toes as you go down. Think of it as a sitting motion. They are very difficult but it works your back, your gut, your butt, your legs, everything.

    Pull ups are also wonderful if you can get to that point. They work your biceps and back. I’ve done as many as ten but when I stop I can barely do 1, and I have to work myself back to 5, which is what I usually do.

    The combination of these things takes 10 minutes but I do them every day. Plus I only eat once a day no matter what, perhaps with a tiny snack in between.

    With this DAILY routine, I’m in better physical shape than I’ve been in my entire life. All the gyms, miles run, crazy diets — none are as good as this small effort every day. It’s changed my life, without spending any money.

    It sounds small and perhaps unworkable but you see that it is very quickly. I do all of this BEFORE my morning shower. I think of it as the price I must pay earn a shower. and because it doesn’t take long, I cannot talk myself out of it.

    I hope this helps. It’s been the THE way I’ve found to make it work.

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      Yilmaz Rona

      I will give this a try.¬† Starting next week. ūüôā

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    Ryan McCormick

    Hello Yilmaz,

    I would have to recommend adding at least some form of resistance exercise if your back and knees can tolerate.  This can end up giving you more return on your investment in the long run, by increasing your resting metabolic rate which will make you burn more calories per day even at rest.

    The physiological explanation for this is that resistance training increases lean body mass (i.e. increased muscle mass) which is metabolically active. Every pound of muscle you add increases your resting metabolic rate by 50 calories per day.  You need to burn about 3500 calories in order to lose a pound of fat.  So, in essence if you add one pound of muscle, you can still lose a pound of fat sitting on the couch in 70 days without accounting for any other factors such as diet change and further exercise.

    I think this is¬†especially important for people as they reach middle age. ¬†As people reach middle age, they begin to lose muscle mass by about 1/2 pound per year if they are sedentary. So essentially this means that they are losing around 9000 calories per year to their metabolism or about a gain of just over 2 and a half pounds of fat. ¬†This may explain how people will say that they haven’t changed their lifestyle or diet, but still continue to pack on the pounds as they get older.

    I hope this helps.  However, as others have stated, you need to find something you love to do in order to be able to stick with it.  Having the best exercise and diet plan in the world will not work unless you are willing to execute it.  Good luck.

     

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    Dave Burns

    I did best when I had a good workout partner.

    There are many people who will give advice, do lots of experiments, see what works for you.

    Long walks are probably undervalued. If there’s no one to walk with, listen to a podcast or audiobook.

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    James Cleaveland

    I second Jeffrey on the gym memberships being a distraction unless you want to become a body builder or a long-distance runner. In my opinion, if you just want to become healthier, it’s easier to just start off small and change your habits slowly.

    I’m not exactly middle age, but I was in terrible condition physically and overweight from working a office job for many years.
    I’ve managed to lose 50 pounds in ~5 months through a combination of low-carb diet and working out throughout the day at work.
    I eased into my current regime and didn’t start off hardcore because it would have likely caused me to become discouraged and quit.

    If you have a job where you sit all day, (I’m an accountant), and your employer allows you to, consider getting a standing desk.
    Here is what I use:
    http://iamnotaprogrammer.com/Ikea-Standing-desk-for-22-dollars.html
    You should get a drafting stool as well so you can sit if you tire and ease into standing a few hours at a time (it’s amazing how stressing it can be on the lower back and legs to stand for 8+ hours).
    http://www.amazon.com/Boss-Audio-B1615-BK-Drafting-Stool/dp/B002FL3LTE/ref=sr_1_13?ie=UTF8&qid=1407759907&sr=8-13&keywords=drafting+stool

    You should definitely consider taking up walking as well. Maybe start off easy, 15 min a day every day. If you can manage it during a lunch break, eat a quick lunch and go walk for a couple of minutes. Walk before and after work ideally as well.
    Change the small things as well and they will add up. Park further away from stores, don’t use elevators, and walk/bike if possible.

    To build muscle, I also do pushups, situps (get a yoga mat), squats, & lunges throughout my work day. With a free weight, I also do crunches, curls, presses, raises, and rows at work. http://www.sport-fitness-advisor.com/dumbbellexercises.html

    If you break it out and do a little at a time and work different muscles each day, it is fairly easy to get into. I also find it easier and more motivating to do a little at a time (5 minutes of exercise) instead of blocking off an hour block for “working out.”

    I would contend it’s more natural and healthier as well to break out exercising instead of doing a lot of effort all at once.
    However, science claims its the same benefit: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=118017

    Let us know how things work out for you and best of luck in whatever you decide on.
    -James

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    Jeffrey Tucker

    I completely agree. Setting aside an hour for “working out” just doesn’t fit in with the way our lives work today.

    But doing 10 mins EVERY SINGLE MORNING WITHOUT FAIL can be just amazing — plus staying active throughout the day, via walking around, getting up from your desk, moving here and there.

    Through this means, I’ve recovered my size when I was 20 and I’m bulked up in my chest and butt etc.. I’m thrilled to have discovered this because it is something I can maintain.

    Of course diet has to change too. I eat one meal a day, and fast once per week.

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