Starting Exercise For Over 40’s – What to Expect

In the last blog we looked at finding the motivation, your ‘why?’, and starting your fitness journey. Starting is the hardest part, but when you do, you will want to know what to expect.

​I’ve seen many people have a rude awakening when they do a workout and are left absolutely broken for a week afterwards. Let’s look at what happens to the body when you start to workout and what you should expect.

Exercise shouldn’t be a miserable experience for you. If we do things right, you will quickly start to love the process and see the positive outcomes.

Think about your day to day life. You move in a select few patterns, repetitively and you’ve probably done the same for years.

Sitting at the desk, driving, a bit of walking here and there. The last time you did any significantly different movement might well have been a long time ago.

This means that when you begin to exercise, you are going to shock your body out of homeostasis. It has become very comfortable in its patterns and suddenly you are throwing something new and intensive at it.

When you first start exercising after a long break, you should take it easy. Focus on mobility, learning good technique and movement patterns. Get blood flowing around the body. Beasting yourself on day one is just going to leave you so sore that you can’t stand up – or sit down.

This is known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and you will experience some when you begin working out. The muscles that have not been challenged for a long time are suddenly forced to work and adapt to a new stimulus.

Part of this adaptation process is going to involve some soreness. Expect it, manage the workload and follow the recommendations below to manage the soreness.

​Fairly quickly your body will adapt to the idea of exercising and you won’t be so sore, but for the first month or so, just expect to have some residual soreness after a workout.

To maximise your recovery and minimise the soreness you should focus on:

Sleeping 8-9 hours per night whenever possible. If you can’t manage that much, get as much as you can. Turn the TV/laptop off and go to bed earlier if need be.

  • Eat healthy and nutritious food. You need to give the body the nutrients that it needs to repair and replenish itself. This means plenty of protein and veggies. Protein (meat, fish, eggs) is what the body uses to repair muscles. Veggies contain all of the vitamins and minerals that the body needs.
  • Avoid junk food. Junk food is inflammatory, it will make you feel sore, tired and more likely to get sick. Avoid the sugar, processed foods and alcohol in favour of the protein and veggies as mentioned above.
  • ​ Stretch and move. A lot of the stiffness you feel is alleviated when you get the blood flowing, to carry the nutrients to the muscles that they need to recover. Stretching out and doing some gentle exercise – even just walking – will help the recovery process. It sounds counter-intuitive, but being stationary actually slows the recovery. You need blood flow to speed things up. You will feel better when you move around a bit.
Your body is going through a process of change. It’s going to be a little bit uncomfortable while it adapts. This is why having a strong motivation is important. There’s going to be times when you would rather stay in bed – but that’s not going to help you.

You can do the work and suffer a little now, or suffer a lot later when your health deteriorates, etc.

It will get better and you will very quickly (in a week or two) start to feel the benefits. Increased energy, better sleep, stable mood, more focus, less stress. Exercise is great for the body and your body will soon start to appreciate it.

This will start to show in your results pretty quickly too. Especially if you haven’t been exercising for a while. You will very quickly see a leap in your fitness, dropping a few pounds and feeling stronger.

If you need some help getting starting and working out in a safe, effective way, be sure to get in touch and I will be happy to help. ​40Perform offers personal training to those who are ages 40+ looking to get in shape. We are located in St Albans and Hertfordshire.

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