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Midlife Fitness Mistakes, fitness over 40

You know that fitness and exercise are important elements of healthy living, but make sure you are not making these midlife fitness mistakes.

Midlife Fitness Mistakes, fitness over 40

I developed a regular fitness habit when my daughter turned one. So, for the past 17 years, I’ve kept a pretty steady schedule at the gym. When I’m there I operate with one primary goal…make the most of my time to get all the benefit I can. At the gym, this girl don’t play!

I’m all for putting 100% into every workout; however, in the last few years I’ve noticed that my body experiences a few more twinges and pains than it did when I started almost two decades ago.

Actually, I have what you might call a preventative personality. Even when I was a teenager I would cover my face in the sun even though the rest of my friends were sun bathing in baby oil. I knew this was the only face I was going to get, so I wasn’t going to fry it and suffer the consequences for the rest of my life.

This same mindset also bleeds over into my fitness philosophy. I know that these minor twinges are nothing compared to the pain I could experience with major knee, back or shoulder problems. Consequently, I exercise with the same preventative  philosophy.

I’ve had to face the fact that this 48 year-old body needs a little more TLC than my early thirties body did, although I have to give it kudos for how well it has held up. That doesn’t mean I don’t still give 100%, it just means that I make sure to use good form, as well as, make small modifications as I age.

5 Midlife Fitness Mistakes

1.  Overly High Impact Exercise

Group classes are my favored cardio option. I love the accountability and energy that comes from exercising in a group. However, about 2 years ago I made a conscious decision to modify some moves to make them a little more low impact. Low impact exercise basically reduces jumping motions to lessen the impact on the joints, namely the knee joint.

Just because you can perform at a full-out, high impact level doesn’t mean you should. Knee pain and injuries are often cumulative, so even if you don’t feel it today you could end up with some serious problems a year down the road.

For me, I try to keep my feet as close to the ground as possible to avoid the jarring motion of high jumps or leaps. To compensate for this lowered leg motion, I make sure to fully extend my arms and upper body. Raising your arms above heart level causes a corresponding increase in heart rate. In essence, the heart must pump harder to circulate blood to your extremities against gravity.

Midlife Fitness Mistakes, fitness over 40

2. Not Changing Out Sneakers Regularly

Consider your sneakers as your shock absorbers. You need to keep your joints protected at all times. The American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine recommends that athletic shoes be changed out after 45 to 60 hours of activity. For a regular exerciser, this would translate to changing out your shoes every 6 months.

The outside appearance of your shoes has no bearing on their ability to protect your feet, ankles and knees from the stress of impact. I have given away a lot of shoes that looks perfectly good on the outside. Consider cycling your used athletic shoes to normal daily wear and buying newer ones on a regular schedule for exercise.

3. Not Warming Up Before Or Stretching After Exercise

“The aging process also bestows upon us the gift of reduced flexibility. Our muscles are no longer able to fully lengthen and thus, prevent our joints from moving through their full range of motion.” (Fitknit Chick) So, it’s extremely important to enter and exit your exercise routine the right way. Cold muscles are more prone to tear and strain.

Of course it’s hard to prioritize stretching and warm-ups when you are already squeezing exercise into a frenzied schedule. In this case, it helps to understand just how valuable proper stretching is for maintaining your current lifestyle.

Stretching is not just a sideline activity. It really is a “use it or lose it” scenario. You don’t always realize how much you take for granted until you can no longer bend over to tie your shoes.

4. Not Maintaining Proper Alignment

Improper alignment can spell big trouble when it comes to your ligaments and joints. Basically, lifting weights causes small tears to form in the muscle. These tears then form scar tissue, which causes the muscle to get bigger. However, if the weight is not lifted properly, these tears can form in the wrong place or cause damage to connective tissues.

Another common misalignment occurs when lunges or squats are performed improperly. The knee should never jut out past the ankle because this causes all of the weight to rest on the knee joint. Instead, the leg should always be at a 90 degree angle (knee directly above ankle). This position distributes the weight through the leg muscles.

If you are new to exercise or strength training, a personal trainer can help set you on the right course for your first few sessions.

5. Exercising Too Much

You might be thinking…what?! Yes, it’s very possible for a midlife woman to exercise too much in her attempt to outrun the midlife spread. Here’s the thing…exercise causes stress to the body, but that stress is not just physical. Exercise also causes hormonal stress.

Tamara Grand at Fitknit Chick explains what happens:

While chronically high cortisol levels are never desirable (resulting in extreme fatigue, reduced immune response and low blood pressure, among others), they’re even less welcome in a perimenopausal bodywhose production of progesterone is at an all-time low.

Why? The adrenals cannot make cortisol without progesterone. The more cortisol they’re required to make to offset stress, the less progesterone will be available to balance estrogen and testosterone. Without the balancing effects of progesterone, excess estrogen often leads to weight gain, in particular, an increase in the body’s central fat stores. Hello muffin-top.

Source: Fitknit Chick

In the end we come right back around to the whole idea of balance and moderation. I guess I’ll just keep beating the drum in the hope that some of you will want to join my parade.

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Learning It, Shellie

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33 Comments

  1. Cindy says:

    Hello Shellie,I like your blog and its very true that if we want to live healthy then we should include daily workout in our life. It will surely give output and in that way we can stay fit and healthy.

    • Shellie Bowdoin says:

      Hi Cindy, I’m so glad you like the site! Yes, it’s important to find an activity that clicks with us to stay healthy.

  2. Kathleen says:

    Thanks Shellie, wise advice there. I think shoes are worth a good investment, they are so important. There are some studies going on that are indicating that extreme cardio actually shortens ones life. Anyway as you say listen to our bodies.

  3. I’ve noticed that I’ve had to change my way of exercising as I get older so its a smarter type of exercise but not necessairly exercise harder. The one thing I slip on, is stretching but I am adding that to my list of things to do so I’ll do it.

    • Shellie Bowdoin says:

      Little modifications can make a big difference, Lee. It’s great that you have intuitively made changes along the way.

  4. Donna Parker says:

    Shellie, thank you, I needed this today, especially the reminder about the sneakers (oops). 😉
    Hope this weekend treats you kindly. 🙂

  5. I can’t believe how frequently the recommendation is to get new shoes!! I usually go 3-4 years, now I know better. Any excuse to get new shoes!!

    • Shellie Bowdoin says:

      Yes, I thought it was quite frequent at first, but I have witnessed firsthand that good shoes make all the difference. Thanks for stopping by Angelina.

  6. Joanna says:

    I’m one of those that over does everything, including exercise. For years I did high impact, spending long periods at the gym, six days a week. Now, I’m paying for that thoughtless exercise with joint replacements. Did I listen to my body? No! I had to get older to get wiser. I still enjoy classes such as Zumba but I adjust the moves to my body. Great advice, Shellie!

  7. Evija says:

    I love reading your posts every week Shellie, they are very insightful and extremely helpful to many women out there. I do a bit of exercise but should do more, sometimes it is so hard to find time for it.. I am currently training for an event called the Parish Walk (24hour walk around the parishes of the Island – 85miles.. though I ‘only’ managed 32.5 miles last time but have to listen to your body and not overdo it…), so must get back on track with proper training -wish me luck! 🙂 x

  8. You’re right, Shellie.. I have to clear up my agenda and start exercising 🙂

  9. New shoes can change your life. I always put off getting new shoes and tell myself I need to do this more regularly. I’m always amazed how much less my feet hurt, and I’ve noticed my back doesn’t bother me as much either when I get new shoes.

    • Shellie Bowdoin says:

      As funny as it sounds, it can help to set a date for purchasing new shoes just like you would a hair appointment.

  10. I enrolled in my gym a year ago knowing that I have a torn rotator cuff oon front and back and was going to Yoga as the stretching seemed like the best thing for a 68 year old, and I found it challenging, until using my shoulders for the planks and so many other moves started irritating the shoulder. I ended up quitting 🙁 so until I can find a yoga class that would be suitable I will choose to use the equipment that I can work with and includes as much walking as I can get in in a week.

    Thanks Shellie, great insight!!
    Thanks to for Co-Hosting with the #OMHGWW
    Hope you have a great week!

    • Shellie Bowdoin says:

      Hopefully you’ll find one, Karren. A good instructor will give you modifications for different poses if you let them know you have an injury.

  11. Wonderful advice Shellie! I really need to invest in new gym shoes and look at a lower impact fitness routine. I am so glad you shared!

  12. Pamela Smith says:

    It’s so encouraging to see all of these 40+ women who are dedicated to getting or staying fit. I have mostly walked for exercise , but this last year, I just couldn’t get motivated. I have just started again and look forward to feeling better and healthier. Thanks for all the great tips!

  13. Karen says:

    This is so encouraging! It has gotten tougher, but I’m determined to keep at it because there’s just too much at stake. The calendar may say 47, but on the inside, I feel like I’m still that 20-something that has goals and dreams and still wants to keep up with the kids and enjoy life with them!
    Thanks for the tip on the shoes – I know I keep mine for way too long…

  14. Savvy says:

    Such great advice. I have been a regular participant in fitness classes for over 10 years. I noticed after I turned 45 I became more injury prone and at 53 stopped taking high impact classes. Even in my lower impact classes I can feel it in my knees when I need new shoes – which is now – I bought my last pair in July.

    • Shellie Bowdoin says:

      Yep, the right shoes make all the difference. I’m so glad you already knew that and that you are making adjustments to your routine. Thank you for stopping by to leave a comment!

  15. Guilty, guilty, guilty! I NEED to start exercising. I was going to classes three times a week and hurt my lower back trying to do too much. I have let that heal, but can’t seem to get motivated to start back up again:(

  16. I’m right there with you. I find that I have to arrive at the gym at least 15 minutes prior to the work out to warm-up BEFORE the official warm up. The body is changing and I have to adapt!

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