Staying active is important for people of all ages. However, finding the right fitness routine can be tricky for some, particularly if they are over 40 years old and just starting their fitness journey.

Regular exercise has a range of benefits. It can improve a person’s quality of life, mental well-being, and longevity. Staying mobile and maintaining muscle mass is particularly important as individuals age.

This article offers a better understanding of the importance of exercise and the best fitness routine advice for those over 40 years of age.

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In 2019, the percentage of adults in the United States who reported being in fair or poor health increased by age.

For people aged 18–39, 7.8% reported being in fair or poor health. That number increased to 17.2% for those aged 40–64.

Adopting a healthy lifestyle and developing new habits after 40 might seem intimidating to some, but it is important for various reasons. These include:

  • Quality of life: Researchers have proven that exercise helps prevent both physical and cognitive decline. This means that regular exercise slows the aging process.
  • Longevity: Because exercise can slow the aging process, it has links to a longer lifespan. Research shows that staying fit reduces the effects of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and vascular aging.
  • Mental health: Pursuing higher levels of physical activity has associations with lower depressive symptoms, anxiety, and stress.

While keeping up a suitable fitness routine is important to overall health, there are some risks involved and considerations to keep in mind.


During the aging process, bone density and muscle mass start to decline. While exercise can slow the process of bone and muscle mass loss and even reverse it to a degree, it can still increase the risk of injury.

For example, people with osteoporosis have an increased risk of bone fractures. Therefore, they need to avoid high impact aerobic exercise or exercise where they are at higher risk of having a fall. Additionally, low impact exercises such as walking or yoga may be beneficial.


While a suitable fitness routine can improve bone and muscle density and slow the aging process, other factors are important. Ensuring optimal nutrition and adequate calcium and vitamin D intake is just as important for preserving bone mass.

Drinking enough water to ensure hydration is also imperative to exercising, especially in hot weather.

Older adults can start to lose the thirst sensation, putting them at higher risk of dehydration. Staying hydrated helps lubricate joints and muscles, keeping the body mobile and reducing the risk of injury.

Medical check-ups

Individuals over 40 need to consult a healthcare professional before starting a new fitness routine. This is particularly important if they have not exercised previously or have any preexisting health conditions.

There are five key components to maintaining a suitable fitness routine.

  1. Strength training: Strength training, such as weightlifting and other forms of resistance training, is important for improving bone density and muscle mass. Several studies demonstrate that performing just a single strength training set 2–3 times weekly is effective for increasing muscle size and strength.
  2. Cardio: Cardio, which people refer to as aerobic exercise or endurance training, is important for heart and lung health. Exercises, such as walking, jogging, cycling, and swimming, are suitable choices. Vigorous household chores, gardening, and shoveling snow are also examples of aerobic exercise.
  3. Core: Core exercises, such as abdominal training, help maintain appropriate posture, protect the spine, and prevent back problems. The American Chiropractic Association estimates that about 31 million Americans experience lower back pain at any time. Working the core can help minimize these symptoms.
  4. Stretching: A dynamic warmup and gentle stretching before a workout are important for reducing the risk of injury. Flexibility also helps prevent injuries that can occur in everyday life as people age, such as shoulder strains and back aches. A person also needs to stretch more thoroughly at the end of a workout.
  5. Balance: Practicing balance techniques, such as standing on one leg for prolonged periods, can also help prevent injuries. Losing balance and falling can become more of a risk as people age, so practicing these techniques can be hugely beneficial.

People over 40 years old who are looking to start a fitness routine can consult a healthcare professional who can perform an evaluation and recommend safe exercises.

They may also want to consult a personal trainer, physical therapist, or registered dietitian who can help them work out a plan to suit their specific goals.

Here are examples of some of the questions to ask a healthcare professional when embarking on a new fitness routine when over 40 of age:

  • Is it safe for me to exercise regularly? People older than 40 who have a preexisting or chronic health condition, such as diabetes, may have to structure an exercise routine around their condition. This is because exercise can raise blood glucose.
  • Will exercise interfere with my medications? People on medications such as insulin may need to alter their dosage around their exercise plan. They can discuss medications they are currently taking and any additional vitamins or supplements with a healthcare professional.
  • What should I change about my diet? Changing the level of activity someone may require them to alter their diet. For example, if someone has underweight, they may need to increase their calorie intake.
  • Which exercises are best for my health? Every person is different, and there may be exercises that benefit some more than others. Certain exercises may be unsuitable for those with certain conditions, and others may help them improve those conditions.

Starting a new fitness routine over 40 holds a vast range of benefits and helps allow people to live longer, fuller lives.

However, it is always a suitable idea to approach exercise in the right way by contacting a healthcare professional and setting realistic, healthy goals.