WHILE the likes of Meghan Markle and Holly Willoughby have been pictured looked amazing during their milestone birthday year, chances are, unlike the celebrities, most 40-year-olds don’t have a stylist, chef or personal trainer at their beck and call!
So we asked celebrity personal trainer Lucy Wyndham-Read to share the secrets to looking and feeling young once you hit your fifth decade.
Lucy, 50, who has almost 2 million YouTube followers, explains: “While 40 is still young, it’s at this time the body starts to change.
“As we age, we naturally lose muscle and our bones weaken.
“Keeping fit and strong is one of the best things you can do to help your body through the ageing process, protecting your health and wellbeing through your 40s and beyond.”
Here, Lucy shares her top fitness dos and don’ts…
DO: cardio to keep your heart healthy
“Your heart is the most important muscle in your body. It pumps blood to and from your vital organs and the stronger and healthier it is, the better your chances of living a long and healthy life. So what better place to start than exercising your heart?
“Cardio is key. Cardiovascular exercise can help keep your blood pressure in check and reduce your risk of heart disease. It can be anything from walking to a jog, cycling to swimming, but what’s important is to do it at the right intensity. Judge this by doing the ‘talk test’.
“If you’re able to do your cardio while talking to your friend the whole time, you’re not training hard enough. If you’re training so hard you’re unable to make any conversation, you could be overdoing it.
“If you can reach a level where you’re able to say a quick yes or no, you’ve hit the jackpot. Aim for 30 minutes a day, five times a week, but it can be split into three 10-minute blocks.”
DON’T: do abs sitting down
“Many people think crunches and planks are key to toning up, but the plank is the most overrated exercise. It’s isometric, which means you barely move, and it can put pressure on the kneecaps and on the lower back if you don’t hold it properly.
“In some women, the plank can even broaden the waistline. Instead, try standing core work, which places less pressure on your neck and back but engages your core as you balance.
“It can also get your heart rate up, which is great for getting rid of the belly fat that tends to increase once you hit your 40s.
Try a standing leg kick. Stand up straight, kick one leg out in front of you and bring the opposite hand over to touch the foot. Even a simple knee lift, where you bring your opposite elbow across to your knee works the obliques and helps to shape the waist.”
DO: multi-directional exercise moves
“Your body moves in three different motions: forwards and backwards, side to side and transverse (rotating). You need to move in each of these ways to get all your muscles working, including smaller ones on the side of your body, which will help with balance and injury prevention.
“Try HIIT workouts that get you galloping from side to side. Star jumps, ice-skater lunges or abdominal twists with punching arms at the top are all great.”
DON’T: worry about kettlebells
“Swinging kettlebells or lifting heavy weights can put pressure on your joints, especially if you are new to exercise. Instead, use your own body weight.
“As you age, it’s important to do exercises that strengthen the bones to prevent osteoporosis. You also need to focus on joint health to keep supple.
“With simple body-weight exercises you’re still using weight, but it’s weight that is relative to your body and you’re not putting any excess pressure on your joints.
“Simple forward lunges, press-ups and squats – as well as running and walking – can all help strengthen bones and joints.”
DO: stretch before and after your workout
“As we age, our bodies can become more restrictive, so if you stretch at the end of a workout while your muscles are warm, you are more pliable and will reap greater benefits. I’d recommend the chest stretch.
“Simply take your arms out behind your back with a slight bend, grasp your hands together and lift your chest. An upper-back stretch can also be a good idea – take your arms out in front of you and imagine that you are hugging a huge beach ball.”
DON’T: follow bad advice
“Sadly, not all online workouts are equal. There are lots of fantastic fitness programs, but there’s a lot of bad advice, too. Anyone can set up a social media account and post workouts, so check their qualifications.
“Have a look at their website and be wary of anyone with lots of ads or who is trying to sell products. There are many amazing trainers out there who may not have the biggest following, but possess a wealth of knowledge. Don’t look at how attractive they are – look for stories of people who have had success on their programs.”
DO: what you enjoy
“If you hate the gym or running, don’t do it. You won’t stick with a program you don’t like. Find something you enjoy and don’t be afraid to try something new. You don’t need to do hour-long sessions either.
“Seven minutes in the morning, at lunch and in the evening is great. It’s not the length that matters, it’s the intensity. Be as active as you can and remember the talk test.”
DON’T: do static squats
“Moves like this – where you squat and hold – place too much pressure on the knees as we age and could lead to injury.
“Doing a more dynamic move – something we call isotonic – like a full squat down and back up in one movement is going to help you build muscle and work your joints. If the muscle gets tired and you hold the squat with poor form, it will cause issues with your knees.”
DON’T: forget mental health
“In our 40s, we can suffer more pressure and stress than we did in our younger years, but various studies have shown that exercise can help to reduce anxiety, depression and low mood by improving our self-esteem and cognitive function.
“Perhaps now is the time to start doing yoga to create some calm time – there are lots of free programs on YouTube – or simply get into the habit of walking outdoors in a green space to boost your energy and help to release those feel-good hormones.”