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The Worst Fitness Mistakes at 40 That Are Hurting Your End Game

These mistakes are hindering your progress. Ditch them ASAP!
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

No matter your age, one thing remains the same: There are some key healthy habits to live by. These basic steps—which include eating a diet full of lean protein and veggies, strength training on the regular, and getting in your cardio—will put you on the right track to fitness success. However, there are some bad habits you may pick up along the way, and continue to do, that can totally hinder your progress. This includes the worst fitness mistakes at 40 we're going to chat about today.

Anything that's hurting your end game should be avoided or ditched ASAP. Keep reading to learn more about these common don'ts.

Why is it important to exercise as you age?

mature man barbell exercise demonstrating habits that are aging you faster

First off, let's discuss the importance of staying fit as you age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), working physical activity into your regular routine is "one of the most important" gifts you can give your body and overall health. Leading an active lifestyle can help delay or avoid many of the health issues that are associated with growing older. It strengthens your muscles, which in turn will help you keep your independence.

According to Healthline, individuals who are 40+ should do moderately intense aerobic exercise for 30 minutes each day, muscle-strengthening activities that target the major muscle groups three days per week, and balance-enhancing exercises at least two days per week.

So now that you know what you should do, let's talk about what you shouldn't do.

Related: The 5 Best Exercises To Lose Belly Fat and Slow Aging, Says Fitness Expert

You're prioritizing cardio over strength training.

close-up sneakers walking, demonstrating fitness mistakes at 40

Many individuals make the mistake of only performing cardio when they're trying to shape up. The issue here is that cardio burns fewer calories when compared to strength work. As you age, you lose lean muscle mass if you don't do anything to maintain it. So even though you may lose weight, you also risk losing muscle as well, which can make your metabolism move much slower. Needless to say, strength training should make up the bulk of your fitness routine.

Related: What Science Says About the Exercise Habits That Slow Aging

You're doing too much volume.

man in his 40s holding dumbbells, demonstrating fitness mistakes at 40

Another major mistake individuals who are 40 and up make is performing more sets and reps than they really need to. There are only so many muscle fibers and motor units you can recruit during a sweat session. Any more than that activates something called "junk volume," where you're simply accumulating fatigue and not doing anything to help your progress. This can also negatively impact your recovery (which you already need more of as you age) and increase your cortisol levels. So shoot for 2 to 3 working sets with each exercise.

You're neglecting mobility work.

man in his 40s stretching outdoors

As you grow older, joint health and mobility become more important than ever before. If you're not incorporating any sort of stretching or flexibility work into your routine, you won't be as mobile—especially if you work a desk job where you're sedentary for a good part of the day.

The goal is to continue exercising and stay pain- and injury-free. Before your workouts, take at least five to eight minutes to go through a proper warmup. Focus on stretching out your hips, shoulders, and pecs, and then finish with core and glute work to get your body ready to go.

Tim Liu, C.S.C.S., CSCS
Tim Liu, CSCS, is an online fitness and nutrition coach based in Los Angeles Read more about Tim
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