I could probably put money on the fact that anyone reading this has had the “get fit/ lose weight/ commit to an exercise routine” New Year’s resolution on their list at some point – if not multiple years in a row! The problem is that finding and sticking to any exercise program is largely dependent on a number of variables that, unless correctly aligned to your needs, wants and lifestyle, often steer you off course or stop you in your tracks before you even start. So, how can we make an exercise routine stick, and why is it so important in midlife?

What are your goals? 2 important things to consider.

  1. The why
  2. The how

For example, your why is that you have been feeling really depressed and want to feel better. How do you achieve that? You can eat well, and research tells you that regular exercise is key.

First and foremost, we often have big overarching goals. The reason why you make the resolution in the first place. For me it was the warning that I was heading for adrenal fatigue – something that can be impossible to recover from. I was hugely stressed and suffering chronic pain and headaches. As a single mom and entrepreneur, serious illness is never an option, so my goal was to reduce my cortisol and stress levels and my ongoing pain and headaches. At the outset, I wasn’t thinking about exercise.

Our “why’s” will all differ. You’ve watched a loved-one’s health deteriorate and you fear you may be headed in the same direction if things don’t change ; you might want to feel comfortable in your own skin again; you’re stuck and know you need a reset to feel empowered, energised and healthy. Whatever it is, your why is a constant (we talk a lot about the why at TheOptimal.me). It is the driving force and motivation behind whatever action you choose to take.

Your “why” is followed by how goals. These will support your why. Maybe achieving a healthy, comfortable weight will make you feel better; feeling and looking strong, toned and slim will boost your confidence; finding a new routine that includes self care will be the start to changing the way you feel.

Whatever your how goals, the exercise routine you choose needs to support achieving them.

You know who you are – don’t kid yourself

I am a disciplined, driven and committed person and I love routine. But when it comes to exercise these attributes had never applied. As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, I’ve never liked it. It was only when I found the one program that trumped every excuse I had previously used that I very quickly found myself committed, engaged and reaping the benefits of an exercise routine.

This is so important, I cannot stress it enough. Your goal should not be to change who you are – at least not at first. If you are a busy, time-short, energy-short, and your schedule is every changing as you juggle multiple commitments and responsibilities, don’t make your first goal ‘I will work out for an hour 5 days a week until I’ve lost 10lbs’… It’s unrealistic and you’re setting yourself up for disaster.

A more sensible and achievable approach that might take longer will deliver much greater results.

Why moving in midlife is essential / a must

Midlife is typically viewed as the start of a downward spiral into senescence, old age. It’s when you hear questions like “aren’t you a bit old for that?” for the first time. It’s enough to make the toughest of us question what comes next.

But at 53 I still feel as though I could be 30. Definitely a whole lot better than I was at 40! Naturally, my body feels different and has a habit of reminding me I’m not as young as I used to be. But the good news is there’s a solution! Multiple studies have proven the benefits of movement in delaying and even reversing the physiological impact of ageing.

This is why I love Integrated Functional Movement Routines (IMRs).

What I want is to be able to do the things I love for longer, like travel and explore the world, without feeling decrepit and old. To have the confidence that 80 could be great – I don’t need to fearing I’ll be a doddering old biddy. My regular practise of IMRs are proof that I am physically better at 50+ than I was at 40 – that’s for sure! My aging body certainly doesn’t’ need to get in the way of truly living.

At 45, 50, 65, we have another 20 to 40 years ahead of us. They’re the years we get to enjoy a focus on family, adventure and freedom. Movement and exercise will make sure you get to do just that, and do it well. It’s a fact.

So what’s the best exercise for people over 40?

You could do HIIT, run, cycle, IMRs, yoga, Zumba, Tai Chi, walking, you name it – the options are endless. The most important thing is that you find something that will support you achieve your goals. And surely one of those goals should be taking control of how you age?

Integrated Movement Routines (IMRs) have helped me get strong and flexible, significantly reduced the stress-related pain and headaches I suffered from and improved my energy levels and mood. Without doubt, they made me feel and look younger, as friends and colleagues kept asking what my secret was. I highly recommend them for everyone looking to feel great in midlife, regardless of your goal. You can do them as your only exercise, or add them to an existing routine to bolster your performance and avoid injury.

As you go about choosing your exercise option, there are 5 common sense rules of thumb to follow to set yourself up for success

Don’t do something you:

  1. know you won’t stick to
  2. are dreading from the start
  3. are fearful might leave you injured

Do make sure you:

  1. give yourself enough time to adjust / get used to your new routine or programme
  2. make sure you track your progress from the start – whether it’s losing inches or touching your toes for the first time, the feel good high will keep you going

If you’re easily bored, look for something dynamic and challenging. If you like structure and familiarity, look for a program that’s guided and consistent. When it comes to movement, there’s no right or wrong, but ensuring you incorporate different movements that work your whole body is the gold standard.

PS. Don’t discount good old housework!