Gut-Check for Guys: Questioning Your Approach to Fitness After 40

I seek a sustainable plan for fitness, nutrition, and feeling “whole” for the 2nd half of my life. I want to feel great, look (at least) pretty good for my age, keep getting happier, and live long.

Of course. But how to really do it? We all face—and can powerfully answer—the same questions…

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I seek a sustainable plan for fitness after 40: physical health and feeling “whole” for the 2nd half of my life. I want to feel great, look my best, keep getting happier, and live long.

Of course. But how to really do it? We all face—and can powerfully answer—the same questions…

1. Exercise: what do I need more (and less) of?

We need to purposefully mix endurance, strength, flexibility and balance. Obvious? Many “fit” guys don’t do this – I’ve been one of them (I was “lucky” to have some injuries over time push me toward more variety). Some of us never had a consistent regimen, and now need one. Wherever you start, the goal is a healthy mix.

Runners: That 3rd or 4th run this week serving you as well as a strength session or a swim? (reverse question for swimmers)

Weights guys: Skip a set or two (or a day) and do some maintenance on the heart and lungs?

Cyclists: What can you do for non-cycling muscles and skeletal benefits of weight-bearing exercise?

All-around gym / boot camp guys: Question for you in “Serenity & Joy” below.

Brothers, with your thriving in mind, I urge you to get more balanced. Try living each week with (minimum) two cardio workouts, one strength session, one trip to the pool or onto the yoga mat (yoga?!! more on that here), and something outdoors (some of these can be combined – that’s beautiful). For concrete weekly suggestions, check out this post.

2. Nutrition: what simple, non-“diet” approach can I live with?

If you’re reading this, you know exercise alone isn’t enough anymore. We need the right quantity of food, and a high batting average on quality. Most of us benefit from a smart mix of vitamins and supplements.

In future posts, I’ll explore many questions we have in this realm. But to begin with, please start:

⇒ Reducing refined sugars and flours (bonus: virtually eliminate these, other than on pig day)

⇒ Upping your protein (some at every meal – lean is better, but occasional bacon won’t kill you)

⇒ Eating fruits and vegetables (duh)…focus on low-sugar cold-weather fruits like apples and berries

⇒ Eating good fats (nuts, avocados, olive oil) – welcome back to the world of peanut butter

⇒ Eating just a little less at each meal – OK if it means you need a snack at some other time

⇒ Avoiding empty calories in drinks (includes cutting down on the booze a little, dude)

Combining some of the above, it is a beautiful thing if you can enjoy a “manly salad” with a protein added and a reasonable amount of some healthy dressing, 3-5 times per week (and skip the bread).

3. Serenity & Joy: How can I get more as I get older?

Why this question here? In the end, this is what it’s all about – the killer benefit all others are in service of. And our physicality should be a huge source.

joyful-dog

When you finish a run, get out of the pool, conclude a yoga practice, complete a hike with your dog, paddle across the lake – you feel it not just physically, but also emotionally, and somewhere deep where those two things are one. There are physiological mind/body explanations, but also the explicit comfort of knowing you’re taking care of yourself, and doing something primal that your ancestor might have done a thousand years ago. There’s destiny and poetry here, man.

Which brings us back to a choice facing the all-around-gym/boot camp guy: can you evolve your routine to get space to breathe, some solitude, some more serenity and joy?

And for all of us, I suggest consciously planning physical fitness to include places and experiences—and occasionally, adventures—that deepen these emotional components of being active. This is a major source of gasoline for us to keep going, when the world barrages us with reasons not to.

4. Implications for Fitness After 40

So if you craft and follow the right plan, you won’t get fat…you won’t lose too much muscle and become a skinny old guy…you may not have a six-pack, but people will know you take care of yourself (and more important, you’ll know)…you’ll keep your heart and lungs as strong as they can be…and you’ll greatly enhance peace of mind and joyfulness as you keep climbing life’s mountain. That’s OlderBeast.

“After all, when the truth is told, you can get you want, or you can just get old.” (Billy Joel, Vienna)

 

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High-Intensity Intervals (HIIT) or Longer/Moderate Workouts? Why You Need Some of Each.

A lot of research shows great benefits can come from shorter workouts (~25-35 minutes total) with alternating periods of high intensity and recovery. So should we stop doing “traditional” runs, bike rides, swims and other cardio sessions, and just do high-intensity interval training (HITT)?

Based on my own experience, a review of what experts are saying, and some simple logic about “why we exercise,” I think the answer is to seek the best of both worlds here.

Incorporate some HIIT benefits into your routine, but do also retain some longer, moderate cardio workouts. Here’s why, and some tips for getting started.

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Aging: 3 Reasons Why You’re Not as “Over the Hill” as You Think

We’re not 25 anymore, physically (duh). But 40++ guys (and gals) can feel pretty darn good if they’re physically active, eat well, get enough sleep and manage stress. And perform pretty well too – in endurance events, strength activities, skill sports and daily life.

Consider these recent news items. A 52-year-old guy set the world record for most push-ups in an hour. At the USA Track & Field masters’ championships, women in their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 80’s, 90’s and 100’s turned in “age-defying” performances.

The glass-half-empty views says 40+ means “over the hill.” But the quest to live in glass-half-full mode raises these questions: 1). What’s the nature of this “hill?” Is there one crest, or different ones for different things?…2). When do these crests come along?…3). How steep is our slope post-crest?

I’ve researched this a bit, and here are my conclusions so far. Yeah, our “VO2max” aerobic capacity is lower, and we have less fast-twitch muscle fiber for explosive things like sprinting and jumping. But there are also several pieces of good news from research, brothers.

Read on for a summary of good-news points and links to research sources. Plus, some amazing data on how today’s OlderBeast-age guys would have done at the first modern Olympics in 1896.

7 Comments
  1. […] ⇒ Fitness and nutrition are major pillars of Wellness in their own right. The more we keep up a level of overall physical fitness (endurance, strength, flexibility, balance) and start/keep eating right, the more likely we are to enjoy an overall sense of well-being in life.  Many OlderBeast posts are all about this, but if you’re new here, please start with this. […]

  2. […] Of course. But how to really do it? We all face—and can powerfully answer—the same questions (continue reading)… […]

  3. […] Helping you be your own Architect is OlderBeast’s core mission. (If you’re new here, check out this introductory post). […]

  4. […] run twice, go swimming once, do two strength-training sessions, and do a yoga practice. Moving to a more-varied fitness regime is a key OlderBeast […]

  5. […] run twice, go swimming once, do two strength-training sessions, and do a yoga practice. Moving to a more-varied fitness regime is a key OlderBeast […]

  6. […] Past 40, God-given levels of these physical traits do start to erode. It’s only by our conscious and continuous effort, via a good fitness mix, that we maintain them. This foundational OlderBeast article talks more about this need to seek more diverse fitness. […]

  7. […] or weight training guy confronting this conflict, or just starting/re-starting fitness now…you need a varied routine, brother. What the doctor orders for us nowadays is rotating among 2+ different cardio activities, […]

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