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Diet & Nutrition

Keeping the body healthy and fit during your 40s

No matter what your age, you can improve your fitness. Every woman should do to ensure she remains happy and healthy throughout her forties and beyond.
Dr. Ameya Kanakiya
October 19, 2023

How are your fitness plans coming along? 

No matter what your age, you can constantly improve your fitness.

Getting in shape in your 40's comes down to two main things: 

specific exercises 

healthy eating habits 

Your career, physical activities, reduced sleep durations, multi-tasking, kitchen chores could have been relatively more natural when you were a few years younger, right? 

As you get older (and wiser), your body starts to put out a fight against these erratic schedules. Your body needs rest, a lot of rest. It will become hard to lose the "baby fat." Once you experience this, it means your metabolism is slowing down.

It gets more challenging to maintain muscle mass; women lose 3-8% of muscle mass every decade after 30. Think of it like 'nature's way' of asking you to take a step back and slow down. And this is your opportunity to understand what your body needs. 

Unfortunately, it is easier said than done. With hormonal changes, we understand it can get tricky to push to adapt to a new schedule; it will mean adapting to a new plan, a shift in workout routines, diet and more. 

Your bones also lose mass and density beginning during the '30s. This bone loss gets accelerated when you begin the transition to menopause. By the time you realise what is happening to your body, you may have lost a good few years in between. Yes, it is never too late, but how much late is too late? 

It's okay. You are here now. 

Bone Health is important. So is Calcium. If the Calcium in your bones disapparates fast, you are prone to a few complications. It is not easy, and here is where we want to give Calcium a run for its money. We want to walk you through a list of measures to help prevent and maintain your body health and fitness. 

1) Exercise with purpose: 

Women in their 30's require varying kinds of workout regimes. You need to maintain your schedule to help keep your body and bones healthy as you approach menopause or are menopausal. Practice makes your symptoms manageable. 

When you've made up your mind to start a physical routine, three essential aspects come up in the subconscious mind, and sometimes in this order: 

" I NEED to lose weight." 

" I WANT to fit into my old clothes." 

" I DON'T WANT to encounter any diseases or health issues as I age." 

It is great to have made up your mind, but this order needs to change slightly. What matters is that you have started the change, but it is good to have your priorities in order. Being disease-free must take precedence over the former two. 

Toning your body and getting stronger aligns with being healthy. Once close to achievement, eventually, the rest will fall in place. Remaining overweight or having a BMI greater than 30 might increase the probability of metabolic diseases, joint pains, menopausal symptoms like hot flushes and more. 

2) Exercise for women in midlife: 

One of the most commonly asked questions is: is there an actual best exercise? The answer is both yes and no. A right mix of cardio, weight training and stretching as a part of your daily routine can help you reach your health goal.

The following exercises have their respective benefits: 

Cardio Routines

Aerobic/ Cardio activities help work out your heart muscles, help burn calories and keep your heart, lungs, and circulatory system healthy. 

Take part in aerobic exercises to engage your larger muscle groups while keeping your heart rate up, e.g. walking, running, biking, and swimming. Beginning exercisers should begin with a light activity of 10 minutes and gradually increase the intensity to gain stamina. \

Weight Training

Weight training, also known as strength training, works your skeletal muscles. Contrary to popular beliefs, strength training does not always bulk up your body or make it any less feminine. Training muscles helps improve strength, posture and helps prevent joint pains. The stronger muscles help in bearing your weight, thus sparing your joints from this task. 

Building strength, burning fat are just some benefits of strength training. Muscle training also helps improve your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), thus helping with sustained and lasting weight loss. You can try working with external weights like dumbbells or kettlebells or use your own body weight in exercises like squats, push-ups, planks and more. 

Strength training is also crucial for your bone health to prevent the weakening of bones, as happens with ageing. To build your flexibility, try practising yoga. Flexibility training can also ease age-related body-aches.

3) Do it for yourself

Cliche' but; focus on your internal dialogues. Awareness can precede change. "Do it to make yourself feel good, not only to look good". - Dr Ameya Kanakiya.  

Whenever you are under the constant influence of external comments or neglect, your actions are incongruent, and you have difficulty achieving your goals. 

4) Path to Improved Wellness 

Look at the transition into menopause as an opportunity to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Eat healthily, stay healthy. Shy away from fad diets and incorporate a sustainable healthy one instead! 

Remember the "square meal" we learnt in school? A home-cooked square meal often has the right balance of carbs, proteins, fats and fibre. Add fruit and salad to your everyday diet. We all love a few unhealthy foods. A cheat day or even a cheat meal once in a while is okay! The more you deprive yourself of the unhealthy foods you love, the more attractive they will seem. But the key is moderation. If you eat a small piece of chocolate once in a while, it will stop you from bingeing on a whole bar of chocolate after avoiding it for months together!

Few other methods to improve the metabolism include:

  • Don't skip meals
  • Planned Exercise
  • Fixed Sleep schedules

Around midlife, changes in levels of hormones- thyroid, insulin, ghrelin (the hunger hormone), leptin (the satiety hormone) slow down your metabolism. You burn lesser calories for the same amount of food you have been used to eating, which causes fat accumulation. It's only fat!

But it is entirely possible to look and feel great at any age. We all should! All it needs are a few rightly directed changes and dedication to create a habit. Aside from the occasional grey hair as you are near 40, there are a few signs of ageing. But you may feel great! Even so, subtle changes taking place in the body will impact the decade to come. 

We hope this guide helps you! 

If you find you need to consult with any of our in-house experts for issues or concerns about your health during midlife, do drop in your query on the Elda Health App, and our care managers will reach out to you!