We receive many emails from readers who used to be physically fit when they were young, but now having reached their 40s or 50s have found themselves woefully overweight and out of shape. High levels of physical fitness of decades ago were achieved through the daily routine of exercise. In fact, exercise in youth was considered a lifestyle habit.
Unfortunately, for many of our baby boomer readers, some circumstances such as an injury eliminated the good habit of exercise. Now, concerned about health as well as appearance (they finally took a good look in the mirror and didn't like what they saw), these baby boomers seek out our advice.
Hi Diane & Richard,
My name Sherry and I live in Texas. I found your articles and website by a search for "exercises for women over 40". I am 41 years of age, 5'5", 128 lbs. but everything is "droopy". I eat very well (low fat, try to limit my carbs, have a weekly splurge, try to keep my protein intake up.)
I work in corporate sales so my schedule is varied but can be flexible to exercise. I had foot surgery in December so I am just now working back into any kind of schedule. About 3 years ago, I was running two miles a day and I felt looked the best of my life. I have lost all that now and I look decent in clothes but awful without.
I was inspired by your words and your pictures. Is there a specific workout with weights that shows quick enough results that a person doesn't become disappointed? I am like most other women my age. My stomach is flabby, triceps droopy and my legs have cellulite on the front and the back. Ew! I need some guidance. Will you help me? I look forward to hearing from you.
Fixing The Droopy Physique
In Sherry's case, it is easy to pinpoint post-operative recovery time as a major factor for the "everything is droopy" physique. But, should we consider other variables that create obstacles in the path to physique development over 40? Or is it simply that a large percentage of our baby boomer cohorts simply don't have the impetus to once again to join the legendary force we displayed in the 1960s decades later by redefining the aging process.
As we look around at the growing global obesity epidemic with no end in sight, it is time to examine the question, "Why do people stop caring about fitness?"
- They get married and feel they don't have to look good for their partner. (Richard: This is why I hate commitment!)
- Family obligations take up time and energy. Family life should be a top concern of all of our baby boomers, but we urge our readers to consider the enormous yields produced from fitness. Several hours per week in the gym will produce reduced health risks, maintain cognitive abilities and increase longevity.
(Richard: It is hard to balance a family with competition, but keeping in shape takes very little time compared to the hours per day it takes preparing for competition. When I told my son, Ryan, I was thinking about competing again but decided against it, he said, "I'm glad Dad, because you didn't pay enough attention to me last time you competed." I had no idea.)
- Depression or some other emotional problems. (Richard: I respond just the opposite to most people when depression hits. I start training like a maniac to work my way out of depression because I figure I'll get even more depressed if I don't like what I see in the mirror. In addition, I know that exercise releases mood enhancing endorphins that will help relieve depression.) Learn more about depression in Depression And The Bodybuilder.
- Unrealistic expectations. We've turned into an instant gratification society that demands and expects quick results from a fitness routine. Far too often we receive an email from someone that expects a contest level physique two weeks after joining a gym.
(Richard: I'm struggling with that right now as I prepare to get in the best shape I have in years by next March now that I have recovered from surgery. Though everyone else says how much bigger my arms, chest, back and shoulders are getting, I'm impatient and want March to happen in September!)
- Athletes often train just for the glory of victory in competition and totally stop exercising when competition days are over. Research reveals this to be a bad idea. For instance, researchers in France studied 20 Olympic rowers and found the following:
During the study's first year, all of the athletes performed endurance and weight training for about 22 hours a week, most weeks of the year. During year two, 10 athletes who wanted to retire from the sport were instructed to exercise no more than four hours each week, while the rest returned to their training regimen.
At the end of the second year, the researchers found, athletes who were not training gained enough weight and fat mass to qualify as officially out of shape. On average, their body fat increased from 12 percent of total body mass to 20 percent, while their body mass index, or BMI, reached 25-the threshold used to define "overweight."
Fit physiques are the result of long-term, committed efforts. They are achieved through sweat equity and sound nutrition.
Results do not come quickly. And with each passing day, we must fight the effects of the aging process to simply maintain our current physique and then put forth even more effort to make gains towards a goal.
To those that are not committed, these words are daunting. But, to those that have experienced the benefits of fitness, the task of fitness is a habit.
Making Fitness A Habit:
- It has to be a lifestyle change, a building of new habits and new priorities.
- New habits take as long as 6 months to become habitual.
- Make exercise fun! Take a hike in the woods, ride a bike and/or hire a trainer to design a comprehensive resistance training program that utilizes your favorite exercises.
- Find a buddy for support and accountability.
How To Get Started
- Figure out why you want to do it in the first place. (Just to please someone else won't work; you have to want it for yourself.)
- Get a physical and follow your doctor's recommendations for starting to exercise.
- Determine from the start that whatever form of exercise you choose, you will do it at least 3-5 times per week. There are many dangers associated with being a weekend warrior. To learn more about injuries in the baby boomer population, read Diane's articles on Boomeritis, here on Bodybuilding.com.
- Set realistic goals.
- Avoid alcohol and cigarettes and start eating a balanced diet.
- Weigh and measure yourself and log your beginning activity levels (e.g., weights you begin with on various exercises) and keep a journal of your progress to ensure it keeps pace with your goals.
- Engage a personal trainer or get some books to learn the basic information about the type of exercise you have chosen so that you don't injure yourself by improper form and you won't make mistakes by overtraining or undertraining.
- Find ways to reward yourself when you stick to your program.
- Spend time with others who enjoy the exercise you have chosen so you can share information and frustrations and motivate one another.
- Don't use excuses such as you don't have time. Make the time.
Diane Fields, Member. Legendary Fitness, LLC.
Richard Baldwin, Member. Legendary Physique, LLC.
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Copyright 2004. Diane Fields, Member. Legendary Fitness, LLC. All rights reserved.
The advice given in this column should not be viewed as a substitute for professional medical services. Before undertaking any exercise or nutrition program, Legendary Fitness, LLC advises all to undergo a thorough medical examination and get permission from their personal physician.