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The Best Workout for Men Over 40
Your body changes as you get older. You get shorter of breath, it becomes easier to gain weight and, according to Edward Laskowski of the Mayo Clinic, you lose muscle mass, resulting in an increase in body fat percentage even if you don't gain weight. Although this process is not completely reversible, a well-planned exercise program can mitigate some of its effects.
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Bodybuilding can not only arrest age-related decline in muscle mass, it can actually reverse it. Bodybuilding also reverses the increase in bone density that occurs as you age. The older you are, however, the more dangerous it is to pursue an intense bodybuilding program, because bodybuilding puts stress on joints that weaken with age. Nevertheless, you can engage in low-intensity bodybuilding -- one set each of eight different exercises two or three times a week, for example. Avoid free weights if you have concerns about your joints and stick to exercise machines. Effective exercises include the bench press, military press, biceps curl, back extension and leg extension. Men tend to gain weight around the belly first. Although you cannot target a specific area of your body for weight loss, strengthening your stomach muscles using weighted sit-ups can improve your appearance by pulling your belly fat closer to your body.
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Aerobic exercise can provide you with two benefits: It can help you keep your weight down by burning calories, and it can keep your heart healthy. The U.S. Surgeon General recommends 30 minutes of brisk physical activity, such as running or speed walking, most days of the week. If you have concerns about your joints, use a StairMaster or another type of aerobic exercise machine to reduce the pounding on your joints that occurs when you run. Even sex can be aerobic if you perform it vigorously. Your maximum heart rate is 220 beats per minute minus your age, so keep your heart rate to between 60 and 80 percent of your maximum.
Loss of bone density as you age makes it much more likely that you will break a bone if you fall. One way to mitigate this risk is to fall down less often, a task that is made easier if you have good balance. You can increase your balance, as well as strengthen your leg muscles, by standing on one leg for up to 30 seconds twice a day. You can also integrate balance exercises into your bodybuilding routine by using an exercise ball. Exercise balls are available at many bodybuilding gyms.
Flexibility is another key to preventing falls, and also reduces the risk of injury from aerobics and bodybuilding exercises more effectively. You can increase your flexibility by performing stretching exercises before you work out, preferably after a few minutes of light physical activity. An example of a stretching exercise is sitting on the floor with your feet straight out in front of you and your toes pointing upward, and bending forward in an attempt to touch your toes with your outstretched fingers. Stop extending as soon as you feel pain, hold your position in slight discomfort for about 20 seconds, relax and perform several more repetitions.
David Carnes has been a full-time writer since 1998 and has published two full-length novels. He spends much of his time in various Asian countries and is fluent in Mandarin Chinese. He earned a Juris Doctorate from the University of Kentucky College of Law.