Focus on training your functional strength daily
There’s no getting around biology: with the passage of time, we all become a little stiffer, squishier, wobblier. But that said, the 40-something you can be as strong as ever. This is the message behind Fitness After 40 ($19;amazon.com), a practical guide by orthopedic surgeon and mobility specialist Vonda Wright, MD. The trick, she says, is exercising smarter. Below we’ve pulled four tips from the pages of her book that every active woman should take to heart.
Work on your flexibility every day
As we age, our tendons and muscles tend to get tighter, and our risk of injury—tendinitis, in particular—goes up, says Dr. Wright, who directs the Performance and Research Initiative for Masters Athletes at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. She compares stiff connective tissues to dried-out rubber bands. One hard tug and the brittle material tears apart. This is why you need to stretch daily, she says.
One of her favorite techniques: foam rolling. “Essentially the log of hard foam serves as a rolling pin to break up small adhesions and scar tissues, thereby increasing blood flow to problem areas,” she writes in her book. “Foam rolling first thing in the morning (after a hot shower) leaves you limber for the rest of the day.”
Dr. Wright is also a big believer in dynamic stretching and warm-ups, which involve slow, controlled movements (like shoulder rolls and sumo squats) rather than static stretches (the grab-your-ankle-and-hold-for-30-seconds kind).
“Flexibility is so easy to ignore,” she writes, but it’s essential if you want to stay active. Mornings too crazy for yet another task? Stretch on your lunch break, she suggests, or in the evening while you watch TV.