Cardiovascular fitness, simply put, means the ability of the body to give oxygen and blood flow to the muscular areas. Some people ask the question, “Can I improve cardiovascular fitness over 40?” The answer-
Of course, you can!
Cardiovascular fitness over 40 can be achieved by hard work, perseverance, patience, and dedication.
To obtain an improved cardiovascular system you need to increase physical activity enough to get your heart pumping and increase respiration.
This is not hard to do, but it is work, which many of us are not particularly keen on. This can be done through consistent effort at exercise. Here are a few tips to help you get going:
1. Make Reachable Goals
People over the age of 40 are taking more of an interest in their health. This could be out of fear, for health reasons, or because they just want to look and feel better.
Whatever the reason may be this is a very reasonable and reachable goal. Having said that, you must also be realistic. As you age the amount of muscle mass you lose increases when you do not exercise.
While it is definitely easier to keep it than to gain it, improving your cardiovascular fitness will improve your overall health.
2. Make Weight Loss Goals
Most people who attempt to increase their cardiac fitness are also looking to lose weight as well. If this is the case, you will need to increase your cardio by exercising approximately 3 to 5 times a week for 20 to 40 minutes at a time.
You should start out slowly when first attempting this, beginning with the minimal requirement of 3 times a week for 20 minutes. This should gradually be increased, as you are able to tolerate, working up to 5 times a week for 40 minutes at a time.
Heart rate needs to be monitored for optimal cardiovascular fitness reasons. For maximum weight loss you would want to aim for a goal and include a high-intensity workout in your plan.
And, if you are attempting to gain weight, which may be the rare case, you really do not need to attempt any cardiovascular fitness exercises.
One the other hand, it will not affect your weight if you do just a mild workout of 20 minutes time at 2xs per week. And the exercise will help to improve the efficiency of your heart, strengthen your immune system and improve your balance.
3. Include Weight Training
For even further success in your cardio fitness workout you may include weight training, but this should not be attempted until proficient in the basic cardio fitness regime. When this becomes easier to you then you can advance on to weight training.
As with any exercise regime you should always consult your primary care physician regarding any precautions or limitations that you should follow. Improving cardiovascular fitness over 40 is not only highly possibly, but definitely an achievable goal in your health plan.
4. Watch your Metabolic Rate
A woman over 40 is faced with a decreased metabolic rate. This decline actually starts in her mid 30s.
With symptoms of menopause, known as perimenopause, looming in the not too distant future, everything starts to look hopeless.
With the slowing down of her metabolism and the tendency to feel less energetic, a woman is fighting an uphill battle. It does not have to be this way though.
With a little hard work and determination a woman can keep the figure that she once had not too long ago.
This does not just apply to women either. Men, as well, can experience a little excess weight once they hit their 40s.
5. Stay Motivated
There are a couple of people over 40 that have supplied us with that inspiration that will help to keep us motivated.
Two women bodybuilders come to mind and after seeing them you will think twice before you can say, “it cannot be done.” There are no excuses once you see the likes of these two women.
Kelly Nelson and Morjorie Newlin are brilliant in their efforts in proving just how it can be done. Kelly Nelson was not just over 40 when they started, but 53.
Morjorie Newlin began weight training when she was 72, when she was 73, she was bench-pressing 65 pounds. She started competing at 78.
When she died at age 86, her death, Newlin, although retired from body building, still was training three days a week, and could still bench-press 90 pounds with a spotter and was able to squat 135 pounds.
6. Remember to Get Enough Sleep
Proper sleep is essential. Studies have shown that people who sleep more are less apt to be overweight.(1,2,3)
Decreasing your levels of stress is also beneficial.
Make sure you get your daily dose of fiber. Not only does fiber benefit you by lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol, it is known to slow down the fat storing mechanisms.
So just remember these tips. With the combination of a healthy diet and conscious fitness efforts your body will serve you for a long time.
(1) British Medical Journal: Children Who Sleep Less are More Likely to be Overweight
(2) National Sleep Foundation: Obesity and Sleep
(3) Harvard Health Publication: Why People Become Overweight
(4) JohnStone Fitness: Training to Improve your Cardiovascular Fitness
Top Photo by Zach Dischner