There comes a day when you realize you can’t continue as you once did — devouring all your favorite calories, couch potato-ing it for hours on end, up for three days and recovering for one, and still look fresher than a crisp ironed shirt straight out of the dry cleaners. And then, it dawns on you: you should start getting into shape at 40.
The question is, how? It’s not like your metabolism is what it once was, let alone your motivation. Plus, your running shoes are somewhere at the back of your shoe closet, your exercise ball has long been deflated, and who knows which multiverse your Lululemons have disappeared to.
Here’s the thing to remember: mid-life is not the time to have a crisis. It’s time to live it.
5 Common Myths About Getting Into Shape at 40
There is no shortage of information when it comes to fitness, especially for those going into wiser years of their life. However, which ones are true and which aren’t?
Here are five common misconceptions about getting into shape at 40.
Myth 1: Your BMI is important
The body mass index (BMI) has long been a measuring tool to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems. However, it’s now being put in the “days of yore” category with studies showing its inaccuracy in predicting the health of different demographics and races.
According to an article in Insider, there are measurements more accurate than BMI to predict health outcomes. They’re known as the five metabolic risk factors, which include waist circumference, high blood cholesterol, elevated triglycerides, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar.
Myth 2: You can’t do anything to improve your metabolism
Metabolism often has a bad rep, being the go-to excuse for mid-life midsection gain. And why not? It’s a well-known belief that it slows down as you age.
However, scientists found that metabolism actually starts to slow down after age 60 rather than at 40. According to a 2021 study published in Science, metabolism has four distinct stages throughout our lives:
- Starting at age one: energy expenditure accelerates rapidly.
- By age 20: declines slowly to adult levels.
- Between ages 20 and 60: remains stable.
- After age 60: declines steadily.
While it’s true that it’s easier to put on weight in your 40s than in your 20s, there are ways you can manage your metabolism.
Myth 3: You’re destined to get physically weaker
Your 40s don’t equal sacrificing your stamina or strength. In fact, a 2009 study conducted by the University of Oklahoma found that men between 35 and 50 years old were able to gain as much muscle mass as those between 18 and 22 years old.
So there’s no need to feel intimidated by those youngsters at the gym. It’s about finding a fitness program that works for you.
Myth 4: You have less energy
The further you move away from childhood, the more you may notice less pep in your step. While age is one reason for your tiredness, your genes, environment, and chronic illnesses can also contribute to it.
These factors lead to alterations in your body’s cells. And these cellular changes can also limit the heart muscle’s ability to effectively pump oxygen-rich blood, reducing the amount of energy the cells get.
While the vibrancy and vigor of your youth don’t last forever, incorporating a fitness regimen and a healthy diet into your daily routine can help boost your energy levels.
Myth 5: The longer you work out, the better it is
Gym time often means spending at least an hour working out, whether it’s with weights or on some kind of machine. As the sets get easier, the time you spend exercising tends to get longer.
However, long workouts don’t necessarily mean it’s better for you, according to Ronan Diego, coach for Mindvalley’s Certified Holobody Coach program. “There’s a certain limit that your body can transform a stimulus into adaptation,” he says, adding that after that limit, all the exercise is doing is creating inflammation in your body.
So when you’re considering getting into shape at 40, keep in mind that it’s about quality, not quantity.
7 Healthy Habits to Get (and Stay) Fit at 40
When it comes to adopting a healthy lifestyle, people, for the most part, tend to focus on fitness or diet, or sometimes both. However, other aspects need to (or should) be factored in if you’re looking to get fit at 40.
Who else better to turn to for advice than Ronan Diego, Mindvalley’s head of Health & Fitness and co-creator of HoloBody? Here are his seven simple life hacks for getting into shape at 40.
1. Get in tune with your natural sleep rhythm
Sleep, specifically deep sleep, is one of the top biohacking tips ever. It gives your mind and body a chance to recharge.
Adults between 18 and 64 need, on average, seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Unfortunately, as per a 2022 survey by the Sleep Foundation, around 35% of all adults in the U.S. report sleeping less than the recommended amount regularly.
Too little (and even too much) sleep on a regular basis can cause a series of health issues. So, make like Goldilocks and find the timing that’s just right.
Ronan Diego’s tip: “[Sleep] changes your energy for the day. It regulates your circadian rhythm. And it’s not only about waking up every day at the same time, including weekends, but also without an alarm clock. So you want to go to bed early enough so you wake up naturally at the time that your body needs to wake up every day.”
2. Hydrate your body
Majority of our bodies are made up of water — about 60% for adult men and 55% for adult women, according to the Cleveland Clinic. It helps with digestion, gets rid of our body’s waste, lubricates joints, makes saliva, balances our body’s chemicals, delivers oxygen, cushions our bones, and regulates our body’s temperature, amongst many other things.
So you can imagine, when you’re dehydrated, the kind of domino effect it’ll have on your health. And one unfortunate thing that happens to your body as you get older is that its fluid reserves shrink, and its ability to signal that it’s thirsty isn’t as effective.
Ronan Diego’s tip: “Drinking water brings fluid to your bloodstream, but what takes that fluid inside the cells are the electrolytes.” So he recommends adding a small pinch of pink Himalayan salt or Celtic salt to a glass of water.
3. Practice mindfulness under the sun
Morning sunlight exposure has plenty of benefits. Vitamin D is a well-known one, but the sun’s rays can also:
- Boost your immune system
- Help your body absorb calcium
- Rejuvenates aging eyes
- Supports healthy weight and metabolism
- Help you sleep better
Mind you, the timeframe can vary slightly depending on your location. However, the general consensus is that the ideal times to soak in the benefits are between 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Add in mindfulness practice, like yoga, and it acts as a catalyst for your body transformation after 40.
Ronan Diego’s tip: “Two birds with one stone — yoga in the morning, to me, is working with the body. It’s doing some movement-based mindful practice and beginning the breath together with it.”
4. Stay active throughout the day
Sedentary is the name of our modern-day lifestyle. Even if you do have dedicated time in your day for exercise, it’s still important to move throughout the day.
“Uninterrupted sitting can cause blood sugar levels to rise, triggering the release of insulin,” Dr. Hicham Skali, a cardiologist with Brigham and Women’s Hospital, shares in a 2020 article on Harvard Health Publishing. When it keeps happening over prolonged periods of time, the body becomes less sensitive to insulin. That promotes inflammation, which leads to fatty plaque inside arteries and, eventually, cardiovascular disease.
Ronan himself will do some push-ups or pull-ups every few hours. Additionally, he finds opportunities to go for walks.
Ronan Diego’s tip: “I’m always finding ways to keep my body moving because our bodies are designed to move. They’re not designed to stay sitting the entire time.”
5. Strength training with heavy weights
One workout for 40-year-olds that can help transform health and body is strength training. It’ll help you build muscle mass, which contributes to:
- Less body fat,
- Stronger immune system,
- Improved energy levels, and
- Reduced stress.
Also, remember that after strength training, it’s important to reduce muscle soreness. Cold showers, with their regenerative properties, can help relax and repair your muscles after an intense workout.
Ronan Diego’s tip: “One of the main functions of the muscle of the human body is to be able to move around and this is done by our muscle mass. So if you optimize your muscle mass, all the other systems — digestion and nervous system and everything else — get optimized as well.”
6. Practice intermittent fasting
The idea behind intermittent fasting is to restrict food intake for a certain amount of time so that the body will more quickly and efficiently tap into the fat stores for energy. And it has additional benefits to that:
- Improves heart health
- Lowers risk of developing diabetes
- Reduces inflammation
- Preserves muscle mass
- Improves brain health and cognition
What’s more, if you’re looking at how to start getting fit after 40 as a female, intermittent fasting also helps improve menstruation and balances hormones.
Ronan Diego’s tip: “Most of the time, I’m fasting for 16 hours. Sometimes, I do my fasting in the morning. Sometimes, I do my fasting in the evening. This changes, but what is constant is that I always do some form of intermediate fasting.”
7. Cook your own food
Nowadays, it’s convenient for us to eat whatever we want whenever we choose. Unfortunately, our go-to’s are often unhealthy foods.
Truth be told, the food industry is failing us. They’re less concerned about your health and more interested in getting you to order from them again.
So Ronan suggests cooking your own food. Research, like this 2017 study, has even found that home-cooked meals are much healthier than the convenience of restaurant-prepared ones. That way, you can control your ingredients (be it organic, farm fresh, etc.) and what you bring inside your body.
Ronan Diego’s tip: “I want to make sure that I give my body the best. I honor my body with the food that I give to it. And so, most of the time, I’m preparing my own food so I can have control of what I bring to myself.”
Other healthy habits for getting into shape at 40
These seven are just a few insights Ronan provides for getting into shape at 40. You can watch the video for healthier habits to help transform your lifestyle.
These 12 Healthy Habits Can Completely Transform Your Life | Ronan Oliveira – Video
Awaken Your Unstoppable
Whether you’re entering your 40s or if you’re already there, you can only create an impact once you take one step toward change. The reality is, there’s no magic pill that can “fix” you until you get the basics right.
And Mindvalley’s Certified HoloBody Coach program is a great place to start. With Ronan Diego, Ajit Nawalkha, and Vishen to guide you, you can learn how to:
- Master cutting-edge mind-body practices to create rapid and lasting body transformations.
- Rewire destructive lifestyle habits for lifelong health and fitness.
- Harness science-based protocols that accelerate healing and bolster longevity.
- Gain mastery of world-class coaching models to uplift and support others.
- Build a thriving, scalable, and profitable coaching business.
Don’t let age change you. Instead, change the way you age. And as you do so, you may just inspire another 40-year-old to do the same.