Are you stronger over 40?
Many people think once they turn 40 their body inevitably begins to fall apart. They may think they can’t physically do as much as they did when they were younger. Or if they try to be as active as they once were, they are afraid they will hurt themselves. Perhaps they learned this mindset from their parents, friends, or even their healthcare providers. Or maybe they have had a few injuries since they turned 40 that reinforces their belief.
Over the next several articles, I want to help you understand your body doesn’t have to fall apart once you hit 40 and beyond. Sure, there are some changes you can’t control, but there are many more you can. This starts with your mindset and beliefs. I also want to help you understand you have the time to physically take care of yourself. This doesn’t mean you need to spend 2 hours a day at the gym. We are all busy and it can be difficult to decide to take the time to exercise. Even if you choose not to schedule 30 minutes most days of the week to exercise, simple daily movement habits will go a long way towards maintaining your fitness. You just need to cultivate the habit (easier said than done, right?).
Finally, I want to teach you how to move. Most of the injuries I treat are cumulative in nature. Even if you have noticed more injuries since you turned 40, your body just doesn’t begin to fall apart once you hit 40. In most cases, the injury is a result of years of doing too much, doing too little, or poor movement patterns (not moving correctly). Someone may “throw her back out” picking up her kid or may have knee pain that began “for no reason” during a run. In most cases, these injuries are a result of years of poor movement patterns. They can also be caused by not moving enough especially if someone has a job that requires them to sit most of the day. We can get away with poor body movement patterns, doing too much, or not moving enough for a long time. However, it eventually catches up with us and will cause pain. Oftentimes, this pain comes with a diagnosis of arthritis or degenerative disc disease. It may even come with the advice “you better be careful, you’re not as young as you used to be”. Talk about making you feel old! Contrary to what you may believe or may have been told, you can be stronger over 40! However, it does require a more thoughtful approach to your training. It may also require you to do what some may consider boring “maintenance” exercises. The maintenance is necessary if you want to keep doing the fun stuff. Are you ready to do the work?
Dr. Terry Gebhardt is a physical therapist and sports performance coach at Colorado In Motion