Older marathon runner
Photo: Derek: goo.gl/iyrD6 /CC

Fitness Over 40 A Pipe Dream or An Emerging Trend?

40 is historically a time for reflection, and for new starts. It’s the half-way point of life, prompting many to change their lifestyle; to renew life’s journey.


For many it’s a wake-up call that prompts this change – a brush with poor health, a doctor’s health check, a quiet word from the husband or wife. These things can jolt us out of our unhealthy lifestyles, and into a new realm of health and fitness.


Funnily enough, this is what is happening to thousands of middle aged Britons right now.


Trends in Fitness in the UK for the Over 40’s


Furthermore, the stats back it up: The Telegraph reports data from Sport England:


“…the strongest increase in sports participation in the past decade has been among the 45-54 age group; a rise of 794,000 people (41 per cent) since 2005-06. And 3.4 million over-55s now take part in sport on a weekly basis, up 28 per cent since 2005-06.”


“These aren’t always inherently sporty types, either: two-fifths of over-50s who exercise say they do it more regularly now than when they were younger, according to a survey by the insurance company RIAS.”


Sports and Gyms – Another Trend?


  • Athletics (including running), cycling and, surprisingly, netball, have “experienced the biggest boosts in numbers, both in the 35-54 and 55-plus age groups. Sport England says running is up 97 per cent on 10 years ago among the over-55s, with cycling up 59 per cent.”


Gym membership and use is also rising. According to Nuffield Health which owns 77 gyms across the UK and has 211,000 members, the “over-65s are the most frequent gym users across all its clubs”.


A recent study by the University of Chicago looked at more than 3,000 people aged 57 to 85 and showed that age played virtually no role in determining differences in health and wellbeing – but mobility and psychological health were key factors in predicting mortality.


So it doesn’t matter what age you are, it’s never too late to get fit!


So over 40’s getting fit looks like a trend in the UK. Perhaps it’s a delayed Olympic effect, perhaps it’s a response to the obesity crisis. Whatever the reason, something is changing.


Which Type of Exercise is Best?


Age tends to lead to wisdom; but it also leads to aching joints after a work out! When you get to your 40’s and 50’s, recovery rates after a workout are longer. You just can’t push yourself like you used to in your 20’s.


But don’t lose hope – there’s plenty of flexible exercise options for you to try.


So what’s the best workout for the over 40’s? Well it depends on your goal.


  • For overall aerobic fitness and muscle tone – try swimming.
  • For weight loss – heavy cardio (running, cycling) plus diet management (that’s a whole separate post!) 
  • For building muscle – try weights and strength training.


For help with a workout plan, give someone at your gym a shout, a friend experienced with training, or even a personal trainer. PT’s can be a great option for the affluent, time-restricted 40+ looking to train and get fit.  


It’s Never Too Late


Go down to your local gym, you will see guys and girls in their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and even 80s working out and getting fit. No matter how old you are, it’s never too late to lose weight, be healthy and get fit. There are people in their 80’s running marathons!


How to start? Just start– as they say, “The journey of 1000 miles starts with a single step.”