Starting a Workout Routine After 40

workout after 40

If you’re a smoker who hasn’t yet successfully quit, you’re probably tired of hearing that quitting smoking is the best thing you can do for your health. As it turns out, that recommendation is only half of the story. Exercise remains one of the single best things you can do for your health, even if you smoke. Regular exercise can even help offset some of the risks of smoking, and may make quitting easier.

Benefits of Exercise for Smokers

There’s no getting around the fact that smoking can make exercise more difficult, particularly if you’re a heavy smoker or have cardiovascular conditions. Pushing through the initial challenges can yield a big payoff, though. A 2006 study found that women smokers saw a reduction in their lung cancer risk if they also maintained high levels of physical activity. Even more promising, a UK study that examined the lives of 400,000 people found that the benefits of just 15 minutes of exercise each day were comparable to the benefits of quitting smoking.

Exercise may also directly help you quit smoking. Several recent studies, including one that examined the brains of smokers who exercised and smokers who did not, found that the simple act of exercise could reduce the desire to smoke. Exercise alters the way your brain processes information, and can reduce your desire to smoke – not just when you’re exercising, but when you’re not.

You already know that you’ll get even more health benefits by quitting smoking, though. So if you’re ready to pair the benefits of exercise with the benefits of quitting smoking, a hypnosis-based method such as The Kerry Garnor Method can help you achieve your goals.

Why Starting a Workout Routine Can Be Tough

It’s no secret that our bodies change as we age. Muscle mass declines steadily as a part of the aging process, and you may also notice that your balance feels a bit off-kilter. Bone mineral density declines with age, particularly among women, increasing the risk of fracturing a bone when you exercise. While you might have once been bubbling over with energy, the aging process can take a toll on your energy levels. Eating an energy bar right before your workout can help.

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For smokers, the transition to exercise can be even more challenging. Smoking increases your blood pressure and heart rate. It can also cause breathing problems. These factors can conspire to make exercise feel more exhausting and cumbersome, but this feeling really is temporary. As your body gets used to exercise and builds strength, you’ll feel better both during and after your routine.

Easing Into Exercise

If you haven’t exercised in a while, talk to your doctor first. She might recommend a stress test to determine if your heart is healthy enough for exercise and measure whether there are any specific exercises that are risky for you. After you get the go-ahead from your doctor, you can plunge head first into the world of fitness. It’s generally better, however, to steadily ease your way in.

Try starting with gentle stretching exercises. These routines can help you regain muscle tone and steadily build strength, while reducing pain and improving your athletic performance. A yoga or Pilates class can provide you with an excellent introduction to the world of stretching in a supportive environment. If you’d prefer to go it alone, though, focus on dynamic stretches. Dynamic stretches are movements that move a group of muscles through its full range of motion. Because these stretches require a bit more effort than traditional stretches, you’ll also burn some calories. Rolling your shoulders, rotating your head from side to side, bending down to touch your toes then quickly coming back up, and extending your torso from one side to the other are all examples of dynamic stretches.

As you begin to gain more mobility, it’s time to add in cardiovascular exercise. Regular cardio is the holy grail of exercise, and most studies that show benefits of exercise for smokers have looked specifically at cardio. This form of exercise burns many more calories than targeted exercise, reduces blood pressure, improves circulation, prevents depression and can even help reduce your risk of cancer.

Any routine that gets your entire body moving counts as cardio, but you don’t have to exhaust yourself. Try starting with a simple routine such as taking a walk each day. Gradually increase the intensity of your walk so that you’re walking longer distances at a faster pace. As you build strength, work up to jogging or even running. If you’re not interested in walking outside, a treadmill is a great alternative because you can customize your workout as you build strength. As you get comfortable with cardio, you can incorporate more challenging exercises such as cycling, swimming, step aerobics, or endurance running.

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The final step in your exercise odyssey is to incorporate strength training. Strength training tones your muscles, which can help you look trimmer and even help you lose weight, since muscle burns more calories than fat. Strength training also directly combats some of the unpleasant fitness effects of aging. You’ll prevent muscle loss, improve bone density, increase your balance and flexibility, and can even reduce your risk of osteoporosis and arthritis.

As with cardio, start slow and simple. Body weight exercises such as lunges, squats, pull-ups, and push-ups require no special equipment. If you struggle at first, aim to do just one or two strength-based exercises, and focus on steadily building more strength. As you build fitness, consider incorporating kettlebells or weights into your routine. The resistance provided by these tools offers a more challenging workout that can give you even more health benefits.

Healthy Exercise Recommendations

When you first begin an exercise routine, the key is to simply get exercise – even if the exercise is only minimal. Doing so helps you increase strength and fitness, but to get the most benefits, you need a certain amount of exercise each week. Try building steadily to this threshold each week until you finally reach your goal.

For older adults, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate cardio each week. Moderate cardio includes routines such as walking, leisurely swimming, or cycling at a relatively slow pace. Alternatively, you can aim for 75 minutes of vigorous cardio such as running. If you want to lose weight and maximize your fitness benefits, the CDC recommends increasing your weekly cardio load to 300 minutes. Consider making this a long-term goal.

The CDC also recommends at least two days of strength training per week. The ideal strength training routine works all major muscle groups, including your back, legs, arms, shoulders, and abs. Consequently, there’s no time requirement. Rather, the goal is to ensure each muscle group gets sufficient exercise. You can pair your strength-based routine with cardio by using it as a warm-up or cool-down, and some people even opt to combine the two by carrying weights when they walk or doing circuit training, which combines brief intervals of cardio with similarly brief intervals of strength training.

No matter what approach you choose, though, the key is to get active. If you can’t meet the CDC’s recommendations just yet, don’t worry. Any exercise at all is better than no exercise, and the more you exercise the better you’ll feel. You may even notice that a cigarette starts to feel less tempting.

Andrew Shack

The original member of the team along with Kerry, Andrew Shack dedicates everything to saving lives day by day. A former Executive Vice President of Capitol Records, Andrew was referred to Kerry from a friend with a healthy dose of business-like skepticism. His exact response when he learned about The Method was, "You're joking right?". His results were no joke. His transformation from 2 packs a day to no cravings set into motion the next 3 years of developing a system to bring The Method to a larger audience. Years later, he still hasn't picked up another cigarette.

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