We have all heard the phrase 'It's all down hill after 40.', 'After 40 you just start breaking down', 'Things don't work the same after 40'..............Hmmm, perhaps things do start to show after 40+ years of wear, tear and use. Okay I get it. As a man in his mid-40's I am experiencing or have experienced some of them. If you are around 40 or older, I do not need to read off the laundry list. You know what bothers you or what your dealing with. If your younger than 40-ish, keep reading anyway as perhaps you can learn a couple things sooner than later and get a head start.
First lets just be honest and say that for the first 20-30 years we were near invincible with little to no health issues outside of injuries and making sure we brushed and flossed our teeth. That's about it. I can tell you I drank soda with every meal, ate whole pizzas in one sitting, thought vegetables were grown in a garden, placed in the kitchen and then thrown out when they went bad. I never ate them. I take that back. Buttered corn is a vegetable, right? I also did little to no cardio exercise or stretching either. Result - Very passable physical scores. Yep, nailed it! And so do most normal healthy adults age 20-30. Our bodies operate so well at that age they need almost no maintenance.
Enter our 30's. OK, metabolism starts to slow, I guess I'll eat only half a pizza and just have soda with dinner. Maybe eat a carrot or a salad occasionally. Gym is getting harder to get to because of the kids. Gain 10-20 lbs and six pack vanishes. Still look good in clothes though. Doctor says some scores are borderline but still in healthy normal ranges. Pick up interests like 'craft beers', binge watching shows, on-line gaming and other sedentary pursuits. After all, we're beat from working all day and then coming home to take care of kids.
Fast forward. Lets choose age 43. Shit like this happens overnight - "I cant read my supplement bottle, the print is too small, I dont sleep well anymore, I gain weight just looking at a slice of pizza, I am NOT going to the public pool! Are you kidding me! Not with this paunch of a belly!" Then your scores do NOT look normal at the doctor - a bit of borderline high blood pressure or high cholesterol, triglycerides are a high and I might as well throw this whine in for good measure "My joints ache when I lift weights at them gym, actually they sometimes hurt for no damn reason!" - The 40's and beyond, lets all say the next word together, (rhymes with Truck!)
If your in your 40's, it took you a while to get to this state . Getting back to optimum health and fitness will not happen over night. It is my belief that with proper lifestyle and exercise changes many "age-related" signs and symptoms could be eliminated or greatly minimized allowing for more vibrant health and a high energy lifestyle. Middle age athletes are proving this all the time. Our expectation anymore is that our bodies should still perform at high level well into our later years. We can upgrade ourselves with healthier dietary changes, daily exercises (as in 60 minutes of vigorous exercise daily - as recently recommended by exercise science researchers), better sleep habits (6-8 hours per night), reduce our stress, and minimize toxic substances and exposure in our food water, clothing and environment.
Main Elements for upgrading the 40+ year old body
3. Daily Vigorous Physical Exercise
4. Stress Reduction
5. Minimize/ Remove Toxic substances
In addition to the above , Mind-Body methods are an excellent addition to improving one's health. Qigong helps to reduce stress, improve circulation, promote sleep, gently mobilize the joints and work the torso and limbs. Qigong opens up and dredges the channels for better energy flow and improve the functioning of the internal organs. Ultimately from a Chinese Medicine perspective, we are creating a Ying-Yang balance in the body to optimize the body's natural state of health.
Qigong can be that 'Extra Element' to your health and fitness program to give you an edge for higher performance, recovery, and radiant health. My recommendation for you is this; If you are in the 'Im 40 and falling apart' zone, start with just one element listed above, change only that and stick with it at least 100 days until it becomes a habit. For example, incorporate a method(s) strategies or tactics that promote 6-8 hours sleep a night on a consistent basis. Then after it is established add another element, say drinking 8 glasses of water a day and repeat. What you will be doing is stacking and compounding these healthy habits over time. Also, pick one, just one Qigong method or form. Learn it and drill it until it is habit. The effects of Qigong are holistic and will have beneficial effects throughout your whole physical and mental system. The beauty of Qigong is that almost all forms and methods have wide ranging benefits.
If you have stress and tension or perhaps sit at a desk all day, try Shamanic Tiger or Fire Dragon Qigong that gets you on your feet and moving your body. If you are busy and up all day, try a sitting, calm form like 3-Lines Meditation or Reverse Abdominal Breathing. If you are not sure, just contact me and I'll give you some suggestions, that's what I do.
Take away message is this; 40 is your 'wake up decade'. Time to wake up and put some time, care, energy and passion back into yourself. Refurbish and optimize who you are. You can allow yourself to fall apart and be miserable or make a conscious effort to live each day fully in vibrant health!