Why Women in Their 40s Need to Stay Active

by Brendan McGovern, the Principal Physiotherapist and Director of RedoHealth

As a nutritionist I'm concerned with many aspects of your wellness, beyond what you eat, such as stress levels, mental health, sleep and movement.  Today I'd like to welcome a guest post by Brendan McGovern, the Principal Physiotherapist and Director of RedoHealth, a small physiotherapy practice in the heart of Balmain.

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You’re not 25 anymore. 

You’ve had 2 kids and after your last pregnancy your body hasn’t been the same.

You’re back at work 5 days/week and your weekends are busy running kids around to different sporting events and birthday parties. 

You’re lucky if you get in your 3 exercise sessions each week. Weeknights are full of kid’s homework, dinner and maybe sitting down for an hour to watch your favourite TV show (not the Bachelor!), if you’re lucky!

If you’re like a lot of women in their 40s, you don’t feel as good in your body as you did in your 20s (most men in their 40s feel this way too!). Those sporting injuries from your younger years are catching up with you and you often feel a bit stiff and sore after you do exercise. 

Does this sound like you?

Being a mother, you often have to prioritize, and the kids always end of coming first. 

What gets thrown by the wayside?

Diet.

Exercise.

Sleep.

When you’re not eating well or exercising regularly and tired you can be snappy with the kids. 

As a result, you end up carrying extra weight and don’t get that much needed stress relief you so need! 

There may be many reasons for this. Like having structure around diet to manage a healthy weight, having structure around your exercise is vital. 

You could try:

·      Signing up for a local Bootcamp. 

·      Attending regular Pilates or Yoga classes. 

·      Putting your runs into the diary where no one can touch them. 

Small workouts of 30 minutes/day is all you need. Enough to get your heart rate up, your body moving and work up a sweat.

Studies show that most men and women in their 40s are not meeting exercise recommendations of 30 minutes a day, five times a week. 

Why is exercising in your 40s and beyond so important?

From years of research we know that the human body changes as with age, and new research is showing that unless we exercise regularly, eat a clean and balanced diet and stop smoking, the mid-40s is a critical time. 

When you do nothing and keep living the same unhealthy life you are at greater risk of a range of health conditions:

·      Obesity

·      Diabetes

·      High Blood Pressure

·      Heart Problems

·      Stroke

·      Some forms of cancer

During your 40s some key changes include:

Muscles:

Reduced muscle mass as muscle cells shrink, and increased fat deposits around the body. Muscles also lose tone and elasticity. The result? Loss of muscular strength and endurance.

Tip: Strength training. Start gradually and build up slowly, applying the key strength training principles: progression, overload and reversibility. (Build on your movements, increase the load and if you stop, your gains will be lost).

Bones:

Hormonal changes can cause reduced bone strength leading to osteopenia and eventually osteoporosis. 

Tip: stay active with load-bearing exercise, including regular walking and strength-training. Check out your local Physiotherapist or Exercise Physiologist for Healthy Bones-type classes.

Tendons:

As you get older, your connective tissues, specifically your tendons are more susceptible to injury and take longer to repair.

Tip: If you have any niggles that persist beyond a few weeks it is vital that you get them checked out and treated. Pain related to tendinopathies in the shoulder, hip and foot can be persistent and debilitating. No pain, no gain does not apply!

If you have been inactive for a while, always start with low-impact activities first – swimming, cycling are great activities that get your heart rate up but won’t overload any weakened tissues. 

If you’re a runner and dealing with a tendon-related issue, consult your physiotherapist for how to adjust your running. 

Metabolic RATE:

Your metabolic rate, the rate at which you burn calories begins to slow down as you get on in your 40s. When you’re not moving regularly, you are more likely to put on extra weight and this may increase each year. Staying active is essential as muscle burns more calories than fat.

It is easy for us to tell you that you should be exercising regularly, but in practice it can be a real struggle.

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But think if you structure your day and make the time how it can benefit you and your family:

·      Improve focus and attention – be more productive at work!

·      Improve body composition – increased muscle mass and lower body fat!

·      Improve energy levels – be more efficient at home/work and have more to give!

·      Improve sleep – wake well rested and have more patience with the kids!

·      Improve mental health – less feelings of depression and anxiety, less stress!

If you ever unsure of where you should start, always consult with your Physiotherapist or Exercise Physiologist. 

Brendan McGovern is the Principal Physiotherapist and Director of RedoHealth, a small physiotherapy practice in the heart of Balmain. At RedoHealth the focus is on treating the whole body and whole person, with a special interest in treating persistent problems and multiple areas of pain.  and Instagram.

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