Over-the-hill jokes aside, if you’re female and 40, don’t worry – you can still be fabulous. Aging is just a state of mind – and talking about it can get, well, kind of old.
Let’s get the bad news over with first. It probably won’t surprise you to learn that according to the National Institute of Health (NIH), our metabolisms decline as we get older. You may have noticed. For women, that means a five percent dip at age 40. And unfortunately, a slower metabolism results in less muscle mass, andwe’re sorry to say, more fat. For women, that translates to gaining an average of 5.2 pounds each decade.
So what can you do about it? And what’s the best exercise equipment to help you? The answer may surprise you. The trick to staying fit over 40 seems to be boosting your metabolism – and toning your muscles.
And the answer to the exercise equipment question is simple –whatever you’re going to actually use. A lot of American households sport the same DIY clothes rack – created from a piece of cast-off exercise equipment. If that sounds like you, it’s time to rethink your exercise routine – and the equipment you’re using.
Most of the common machines in your gym would be good choices – the treadmill, exercise bike or elliptical. Keep in mind, though, that whatever machine you choose is not enough by itself. You need to be willing to work at it. That may mean increasing the speed, incline or tension.
Based on NIH research, many trainers recommend interval training. Whatever equipment you use, change up your routine a little. Increase the speed for 5 minutes. Raise the incline for 10. In short, doing short intervals of something and then switching. The reason this works is because it keeps your body from getting used to the same old exercise at the same old speed. Exercising this way keeps your mind from getting bored – and your muscles from guessing what’s next.
The American Heart Association’s focus is all about getting physical. So if you aren’t a go-to-the-gym kind of girl, create a home gym with your favorite apparatus. Wherever you exercise, the AHA suggests setting aside 150 minutes for moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week for vigorous exercise. And there’s a bonus! In addition to burning fat and building muscles, this can help lower your blood pressure and cholesterol.
If you’d rather be outdoors, the following things can be your “equipment.”
- A bike
- Roller blades
- Ice skates
- Paddle board
And while it may be a stretch, even a swim suit, tennis racket, golf club, basketball or horse will “equip” you to keep moving and stay fit. You get the idea.
On a smaller scale, some of the best equipment for women wanting to be fit at 40, is geared to toning, building muscles and strengthening your core. These are all inexpensive and easy to use. You’ll find most of them at the gym, but you can easily get your own to use right at home.
- A large exercise ball — to use with certain exercises or while lifting weights
- Balance balls — to strengthen your core
- A jump rope — for cardio
- Handheld weights – to build muscle
- An exercise band — for resistance
- A yoga mat (and yoga DVD) – for stretching and core exercises
So whether 40 is on your horizon or already in your rear-view mirror, the secret to staying physically fit is not in the specific piece of equipment you use. The real secret is to use whatever you most enjoy. So get out and get moving.