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Workout Wisdom for Those Over 40
by Katherine Hobson
Whether you're planning to bike cross-country after you retire or you haven't put on sneakers since you were 6, there are things you need to know about exercising.
Here are tips for both newbies and veterans:
Yes, in your own shoes, but also in the setting where you work out. If you're new to exercise, that may mean joining a low-key gym like Curves or a walking group rather than a gym full of 100-pound dumbbells. Conversely, if you are used to intense exercise, you're going to get bored at the community pool's "aqua-cise" class. Seek out like-minded athletes of all ages.
Find activities that are right for you
"Do what you like to do. Do what you can--whatever fits into your schedule," says Gene Schafer, an athletic trainer and owner of ARC Athletics in New York. If you think back wistfully on your
It's not all about aerobics
"There are so many changes that happen to our bodies when we age, and changes to our heart are only part of it," says Vonda Wright, director of the Performance and Research Initiative for Masters Athletes at the
Start slowly, and embrace recovery
You're never too old to exercise. But if you're new to it or haven't done it in years, start with simple plans--like walking every day after dinner. Once that becomes a habit, build on it. Ease into individual workouts, too. No matter how experienced you are, a good warm-up becomes more essential as you age. And take time to recover; swimmer Dara Torres, who at the age of
Switch it up
You're vulnerable to injuries and boredom when you do the same thing every day. More than ever, cross-training is your friend. With strength-training, you're going to make progress only by increasing the amount of weight you lift; add and subtract exercises to increase variety.
Mind old injuries
"Work within the bounds of your health," advises Wright. Almost everyone, except the very ill and very frail, can exercise. But if you blew out both knees as a college linebacker, running is perhaps not your best exercise mainstay. Pick an activity that your body can tolerate, such as yoga. And if you're hellbent on re-creating your high school glory days, find a game with folks your own age, do it less often, and cross-train.
Don't underestimate yourself
If you're a newbie, don't think you can't make giant leaps in your fitness; plenty of age-group champions in running, for example, never laced up a pair of shoes until well after turning 40. And if you've been exercising for years, don't assume your performance is going to fall off a cliff. Torres says she's gratified by how many people told her she'd become their role model for going beyond their perceived limits. "Don't put age limits on your dreams," she says.
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