Last Updated on May 21, 2023 by Michael Brockbank
It’s a fact of life; you slow down as the years march on. And many of us just toss fitness out the window after several years of marriage and kids. So, why do many of us find it so hard to maintain fitness in our 40s?
Although I would love to offer a tangible, quantifiable answer to this question, the truth centers more around the individual.
Now, I’m not saying that everyone over the age of 40 is doomed to a life of falling apart. On the contrary, I know quite a few elderly folk who would run circles around me in terms of physical activity.
However, there’s no denying that it does start to take far more effort once you reach a certain age. Well, at least for most people.
Seriously, there’s a reason why the CDC says more than 42% of the US is obese. We just have a hard time getting our asses up and moving.
What Causes the “Dad Bod?”
The “dad bod” is essentially what happens to guys once we settle down and have children. Many guys will go from a superhero physique to an overweight shadow of their former selves.
Then, there are those of us who really weren’t in the best of shape to begin with and slowly got worse over the years.
Probably one of the biggest culprits of the dad bod is being in a serious relationship. Since we’ve “won” our mates, there is really no reason to put in the effort to attract another.
Yes, I know not everyone falls apart after meeting “the one.” But, I know a lot of us who do. In reality, it’s a driving motivator behind why so many guys put in the effort to look like a Greek god.
But if you think about it, fitness in your 40s could be a way to keep your significant other interested.
Yeah, I know, love should be blind. But there’s no escaping that physical attraction is what drives many to intermingle, so to speak.
Never underestimate that we are still a mammalian species.
As you get older, your lack of motivation becomes far more prevalent. And it gets far more difficult to ignore the passage of time.
Many of us will get into the mindset of, “why bother?”
Then you have the grind of working, the stress of maintaining a household, and all of the other things attributed to adulting. Not everyone handles stress the same, and some of us just start packing on the weight.
Good Old Fashioned Laziness, Especially Nowadays
Sure, technology is convenient. But it’s played a huge role in the laziness of humanity, today. We trade off a lot of physical activity for the sake of convenience.
For example, I roughly get around two to three thousand steps when I go grocery shopping. Though, a lot of people buy into having meals delivered to their home.
Or, find it ultra convenient to stop by Taco Bell late at night for some cheap snacking. And I use the term “cheap” quite generally.
Are these people trading the time spent walking around the store for other physical activity? I know I wouldn’t.
Instead of getting in the car and hanging out with a friend, we can do so through social media. Instead of getting up and going to work, we can now do so remotely in many instances.
And instead of standing at an arcade at the mall to play video games, we can download or stream tens of thousands of titles directly to our couch or desk chair.
There simply isn’t as much movement today as there was in the 20th century.
Is Fitness over 40 More Difficult?
OK, aside from the ravages of time and technology, is fitness in your 40s impossible? Absolutely not. It’s not even all that difficult, if you change your mind about the process.
I know plenty of people well beyond their 50s and 60s who are in better shape than most of the people I know in their 30s.
So, before I jump into improving fitness in the 40s, let’s immediately cut out the “age” misnomer. How old you are has less to do with fitness than you might realize.
It All Comes Down to Mindset
First, getting fit and staying lean are all a matter of how you view exercise and workouts. If you find them to be mundane, dull, and strenuous, you won’t have the best experience.
How many people do you know have exercise equipment in the house? Now, how many of those people actually use that equipment more than once per month?
Growing up, I knew all kinds of relatives who had workout tapes and DVDs collecting dust in the back of a closet.
That’s because many people don’t go into fitness with a positive frame of mind. It’s all about finding things you truly enjoy doing and having fun.
Don’t think of fitness as a chore.
Knowing Your Limitations
Knowing how far you can push yourself is imperative, especially as you start to gain years. I know I often push myself way too far because it’s what I was able to do before.
The end result is passing out, pulling something, or walking around in a world of hurt for three days. You can’t expect to jump in where you left off five years ago.
My point is that you need to use some semblance of logic and find your baseline. Especially if it’s been several months since you actually worked out.
Case in point, I tried to do the same number of rounds playing the Kinect as I did back in 2018. I wound up seven rounds short with fewer weights and nearly passing out on my floor.
In other words, I need to work back into where I was three years ago because I’ve been slacking.
Finding the Right Motivation
You can easily achieve fitness in your 40s by finding the right forms of motivation. Remember what I said about dusty DVDs and video tapes? That’s what happens when you view an exercise routine as boring and mundane.
You need to find something that can engage your mind to the point where it’s fun. Because the more you enjoy an activity, the less it feels like work.
This is essentially the premise of gamification. It’s all about encouraging yourself to perform certain actions by making it feel like a game.
For instance, I love collecting personal data and then trying to break my own records. I’m a bit of a dork when it comes to spreadsheets.
In this case, I have a lot of exercise records that I would love to shatter. It provides a sense of accomplishment and boosts confidence that I can achieve my goals.
At any rate, find something that motivates you to get moving. Whether you’re joining a golf league, bowling team, or simply enjoy walking around the pond, get yourself moving.
Get Consistent with Exercise
Perhaps another one of our biggest downfalls when it comes to fitness in the 40s is consistency. Many of us either don’t have time, forget to work out, or don’t care enough to get a few more steps.
Consistent exercise is what keeps you fit and healthy. You can’t just reach a personal goal and then go back to your sedentary lifestyle. Otherwise, all that weight you lost will easily find you.
In fact, if I would have kept up with playing the Xbox or otherwise exercising, I wouldn’t be so far behind where I was in 2018.
That’s because if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. Muscle mass does not stay consistent when they’re not taxed. And it doesn’t take long before you start losing your gains.
This is because your body assumes the bulk, strength, or lean muscle mass is no longer necessary for your survival.
Break the Laziness Habit
One of the hardest parts about fitness in the 40s is breaking bad habits. A lot of us get too complacent or comfortable in our current lifestyle to really focus on losing weight or building muscle mass.
Case in point, I could get in more than a mile worth of steps instead of sitting at my desk watching an episode of MASH on Hulu.
Now, downtime is equally important when you’re exercising. After all, your muscles need to heal, especially after an intense workout.
However, it can be incredibly easy to get sucked into wasting a few hours in front of your computer, TV, or even smartphone. And many of these habits are exceptionally difficult to break.
Luckily, once you start creating healthier habits, it’ll be much easier to reach certain levels of fitness. This is because positive habits are just as easy to form as negative ones.
That is as long as you go about it with a positive attitude.
The Vicious Cycle of Energy!
As the years start tacking on, you may find that you have less energy throughout the day. Or, if you’re like me, you can muster up a ton of energy first thing in the morning but are wiped by noon.
What’s funny is that exercise boosts energy levels. The more you work out, the more energy you’ll have to continue your day. But what if you don’t have the energy to work out in the first place?
You need energy to exercise so you can have energy to continue your day but are too tired to exercise.
It’s a vicious cycle.
Unfortunately, everyone is different when it comes to physical needs. Your lack of energy could come from a variety of sources ranging from not getting enough sleep to having a low testosterone level.
But once your able to start building up momentum, you’ll find it much easier to accomplish fitness in your 40s without needing regular naps.
Take Time for a Checkup
I know a lot of you probably feel invincible. After all, not all of us are immortal. But if you’re having a hard time getting up and moving about, you may need a doctor to check under the hood.
Age has a lot of facets, especially when it comes to putting in the effort for fitness. And you might not actually be affected by any of the above that I’ve mentioned.
Truth be told, your motivation can easily be sapped by things going on inside your body.
In fact, there is a very long list of ailments that can affect everything from energy levels to cognitive functionality to remember to work out in the first place.
And as very few men would prefer seeking an exam by a licensed practitioner, remember that you are not. Don’t rely on self-diagnostics to get you by.
You could think you have something far worse than what you might have in reality.
Get yourself checked out!
Fitness in Your 40s is Not Impossible
There are a lot of misguided people out there in the world. One of my favorites is how some 20-something commentor on YouTube didn’t think men could develop muscle mass after 40 without steroids.
Doing your research doesn’t mean taking to Bob’s Fitness Blog and trusting everything he writes. Seek professional help and trust the science.
And no, the irony of that last sentence isn’t lost on me. But, at least I trust doctors, scientists, and my own performance. And I never trust anything without actually looking it up.
Fitness in the 40s may require a bit more work, but it’s possible. Especially if you can develop some good habits.