Fitness over 40: It’s not so hard once you find your groove

US-born Jeff Shaw works as an Active Lifestyle Habits coach in Mérida, Yucatán, focusing on clients over 40. Photo: Courtesy

It starts subtly, and then one day, it’s staring you in the face. You’re aging. As youthful and effervescent as you may feel inside, your body needs a different kind of care as you journey 40 and beyond. 

Forty. It’s the age where you are firmly planted in adulthood and often come to terms with the reality that your lifestyle choices from the last four decades will begin to shape how you age and your long-term physical and mental well-being. Living a healthy lifestyle after 40 means being intentional and diligent with your nutrition, sleep, physical activity, and mental and emotional health.

Kimmy Suki, a 40-plus long-time Mérida resident, recalls being careless about her health. “I often jumped on each new fad or diet with zero regard to the effects on my body. Now, I am cautious.” 

Marina Barreto, a 40-something mother of two living in Mérida, agrees. “I feel like before 40, I had other goals. It was more connected to being fit and looking good, whereas now it is more connected to health, aging better, and being at peace with myself.”

Inspired by his own experience during the pandemic, Jeff Shaw, a certified personal trainer and massage therapist, founded Longevity360. As an Active Lifestyle Habits Coach, he focuses exclusively on clients over 40 who want healthier, more fulfilling lives. 

“Fast forward 10 years, and think about what you want to be able to do. Then, reverse engineer what you must do to achieve those things,” says Jeff, who works exclusively with clients in this age group. 

Keeping active and limber helps the body stay in shape and remain strong. By including light aerobic exercise like jogging, cycling, or swimming in their regular routines, people can keep their bodies from deteriorating and make themselves less susceptible to injuries. Movement can also help to prevent falls, as maintaining strength and agility will give a person more balance and better coordination.

“One of the biggest things is to find activities that you enjoy doing,” Jeff suggests. Whether that’s playing tennis, golfing, dancing, or going for long walks, he recommends you make fitness fun. “Especially for people who don’t like the general idea of going to a gym and are turned off by that idea. I don’t have clients who work with me more than three days a week. [They] should be branching off and finding activities to get into.”

Stephanie Carmon, who owns MID CityBeat, has found a routine that works for her.

“In my 40’s, I started doing pilates and low-impact exercises such as bicycling and walking as my only exercise. I no longer go hard sweating and jumping around,” says Stephanie. “And I’ve noticed that my body stays in great shape. I don’t get hurt; on the contrary, I feel like it’s exercise and physical therapy at the same time.”

“Meditation and mindfulness moments have helped me to get in touch with my inner self and keep me in touch with interior fitness,” Marina shares. “The way I keep moving was to find a group of people that always encourage me to continue challenging myself.”

“It makes me feel good. I have a better outlook on life,” Stephanie says. “When you can’t control many things in your life, you can control your discipline and healthy habits. That feels good.”

Jeff Shaw’s 5 buckets of fitness

Movement: Exercising regularly and at an intensity that’s right for you will increase your strength, agility, flexibility, and balance. Even if you can only carve out small pockets of time throughout the day, just a few minutes can make a huge difference.

Nutrition: Eating the right type of food is the cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle after 40. Making simple dietary changes can have a dramatic effect on your well-being.

Recovery: Quality sleep is an essential element of a healthy lifestyle after 40. Poor quality or inadequate sleep can lead to health problems, from weight gain and memory loss to an impaired immune system.

Mindset: Be kind to yourself and know that you’re worth the effort it takes to make positive changes. Building resilience and facing challenges will help you to maintain an optimistic outlook, no matter the circumstance.

Connection: Maintaining close and meaningful relationships can improve mental health and longevity. Making strong social connections will keep your body and mind healthy as you get older.

Jeff Shaw online:

Jenita Lawal
Jenita Lawal
Jenita Lawal is a freelance writer originally from Nashville, Tennessee. She lives in Mérida as a "Travel Curation Specialist, Life Design Strategist, Mom of Teenagers, Lover of Eclectic Souls."
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