how to get fitter after the age of 40

Bad news, everyone: if you’ve been ruthlessly pruning your exercise schedule back into a short-but-bitter handful of minutes a week – doing HIIT, or Tabata, or one of the other regimes that promises results in mere minutes – you’re going to need to find some more time. Quite a lot more, in fact.

Research published by Cambridge University, carried out on Britons aged 40-79, suggests that, while simply following the government-suggested minimum of 150 minutes of exercise a week can cut mortality risk by almost a quarter, more is in fact better. Participants who nudged their daily dose from 42 minutes to just over an hour slashed their risk of early death by 42 per cent. 

On the one hand, this seems ridiculous and depressing – who, after all, has a spare hour every day, apart from professional Iron-Men and the recently-retired? But look at it from another angle, and things get more manageable. According to the study guidelines, ‘activity’ included not only sport and cycling, but walking and ‘office work,’ suggesting that even extremely low-level movement makes a difference.

And so the good news is this: what most over-40s need isn’t a new gym membership but a slight life-recalibration – a rethink to incorporate more activity here and there, rather than a wholesale embrace of press-ups.

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