(image: Coach Magazine)
Hitting your 40’s is no reason to give up an active lifestyle.
This transitional age is when the body’s ability to convert food into energy slows down significantly. Having a sedentary lifestyle coupled with poor nutrition will aggravate that process, making it even more important to shape healthy habits around your changing body.
(image: Eat This)
Lena Headey and Sofia Vergara are testament that age is just a number. Headey currently plays Cersei Lannister, one of the most conflicting characters in Game of Thrones. She also played a number of film roles including Queen Gorgo, the Spartan queen in the two 300 movies. Meanwhile, Vergara is known as Gloria Pritchett in Modern Family. Although, her first TV appearance was in a Pepsi commercial when she was 17.
The two TV stars are well over 40 but it seems neither have passed their prime thanks to a combination of a balanced diet and exercise. Here are five secrets to staying young and healthy from these leading ladies.
Endurance exercises are optional
Like many other women, Sofia Vergara is not a big fan of cardio. Her trainer revealed to Marie Claire that walking at a high incline on the treadmill or spinning for a few minutes is how she primes her muscles. The truth is endurance exercises, such as running, are just an option for fat loss but not a necessity. The body can adapt to repetitive stresses caused by endurance exercises, and reduces the ability to burn fat the more you get used to it. You may be able to run longer, but that doesn’t mean you can go at a faster pace while muscles get more defined the heavier you lift. If burning fat and getting stronger are your goals, you don’t always have to spend torturous hours hitting the treadmill or the pavement.
Drop the barbie weights
Many women at any age fear the weights room because they don’t want to get too bulky. But Headey and Vergara know that lifting heavy weights is one of the most effective ways to encourage fat loss and build strength. Fit Women Over 40 previously mentioned that building strength actually has to do with muscle breakdown. Lifting 10 pounds is perceived by the body as a stressor, which causes microtears in the muscles. After each session, your body goes through a process of recovery and adaptation. Eventually, 10 pounds becomes easier to bear and your muscles grow much stronger to protect your bones.
Shake up your routine
It would be hard to deny that Lena Headey has one of the most impressive physiques seen on screen. In 2014, the star spoke to Coach Magazine about her intense training sessions for 300: Rise of an Empire, which consisted of 300 reps of a variety of exercises that target the whole body. Varying your workouts ensures that you don’t hit a plateau, get too comfortable, bored, or lose motivation.
Her training was vital to living up to the role, as Spartan women are the embodiment of power and strength who are deemed equals by their male Spartan counterparts.
In fact, Spartan strength has long been a central theme in their representation in modern media, and this quality is also showcased in other titles based on the franchise. Foxy Casino’s 300 Shields game draws its narrative from the first movie, and players can relive the action-packed scenes that display visuals of the strength of the famous Greek battalion. This emphasis on peak fitness stems from using early forms of Calisthenics that actually has roots in Grecian concepts and they were largely influenced by Spartan methods, which you can incorporate in your routine. Spartans were already lifting weights, enhancing their core, and developing lower body strength before anyone else even knew how advantageous these methods were.
Needless to say, Headey’s intense workouts paid off, as she succeeded in playing the Spartan queen.
Balance your macros
For decades, carbs and fat have been vilified as the culprits for weight gain. However, in addition to protein, those two macronutrients are essential for a balanced diet. It is better to count your macros than restrict your calories for a sustainable weight loss/muscle building plan, especially since whole food provides a lot of fiber that the body requires more as you age. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and root crops provide carbohydrates; leafy greens, legumes, lean meats, eggs, nuts have plenty of protein; and healthy oils, avocados, seeds, nuts are high in healthy fat. The ideal ratio for sculpting a lean body is 30% carbs, 40% protein, and 30% fat. Both leading ladies abide by healthy diets while also allowing themselves to indulge every once in a while.
Rest when your body calls for it
Vergara told SELF that even though she doesn’t like working out, it is how she takes care of her body especially as she gets older. For many, exercising can be very exciting, especially if you’re seeing the results of your hard work. Like most things though, too much of it is also unhealthy. When you’re trying to build strength, it’s important to allow your body time for recovery so you don’t get injured or burnt out. That being said, don’t rest for too long as consistency is even more important in your 40s.
Backsquats at boot camp
If you want to lose weight, stop doing your 5 mile runs or your hour-long treadmill sessions and replace them with high-intensity interval training or Cross Fit training instead.
One of the reasons why people continue to struggle with their weight despite engaging in regular exercise is because they’re not doing the right kind of exercise! Studies have confirmed that exercising in shorter bursts with rest periods in between burns more fat than exercising continuously for an entire session.
By doing Cross Fit or another high intensity workout, such as TRX Training, you can cut the duration of your exercise session in half and still burn fat! One study showed you can burn more fat exercising for 20 minutes than for 40 minutes. In the study, women either exercised for 20 minutes, alternating 8 seconds of sprinting on a bike with 12 seconds of exercising lightly, or exercised at a regular pace for 40 minutes. After exercising three times a week for 15 weeks, those who did the 20-minute, alternating routine lost three times as much fat as the other women.
This type of exercise works because it produces high levels of chemical compounds called catecholamines, the so called “fight-or-flight” hormones, which allow more fat to be burned from under your skin and within your muscles. The resulting increase in fat oxidation is thought to drive the increased weight loss.
High Intensity Exercise Increases Growth Hormone Production
The higher your levels of Human growth hormone (HGH), also called “the fitness hormone”, the healthier and stronger you will be. After age 30, your levels of human HGH begin to drop off quite dramatically, this is called “somatopause and leads to the dreaded “middle age spread”. Maintaining your HGH levels is increasingly important as you age. You will experience vibrant health and strength the longer you can keep your body producing higher levels of HGH.
You must engage your super fast muscle fibers in order to naturally increase your body’s production of HGH. Regular aerobic cardio such as running only works your slow muscle fibers, and can impede natural HGH production by causing your super fast fibers to atrophy from lack of use. Only high-intensity power burst cardio training, such as Cross Fit exercises, TRX Training or others, will engage your super fast fibers and promote HGH production.
The Benefits of Strength Training
Women tend to avoid exercises that will increase muscle mass, but carrying more muscle has many health benefits, including:
• Improved blood circulation
• Increased metabolism
• Increased bone density
• Increased energy
• Decreased body fat
• Improved posture
• Increased range of motion
• Increased body functions
Strength training is recommended for women of all ages, including seniors. Retaining your skeletal muscles is one of the most critical elements of human fitness to keep you strong, functional and healthy. Your muscles also help regulate glucose and lipid metabolism and insulin sensitivity, which protect you against obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Cross Fit and high-intensity interval training which have intense speed and power exercises trigger a mechanism in your muscles that actually promotes muscle growth.
TRX Suspension Training – Total Body Workout
Exercise Slows Down Your Aging
Exercise also has other anti-aging benefits such as it can prevent or delay the onset of heart disease, hypertension, obesity, and osteoporosis, which are all common ailments associated with advancing age.
Also, if you can control the aging process inside your cells, as one anti-aging theory suggests, you should be able to control your rate of aging. Telomeres are part of your chromosomes which are inside each of your body’s cells. When your cells divide, these telomeres shorten and when they get to a certain level you will die of old age.
Exercise can not affect the telomere shortening process, but it can be accelerated by an unhealthy lifestyle. Exercise plays an important part in the prevention of aging. So, lack of exercise, obesity, stress, and smoking, all cause production of free radicals that speed up cells splitting and the telomere shortening process.
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