How to work out over 40. Hutton Health

How to work out over 40

4th May 2023

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Table of Contents:

  1. Elements of a good exercise plan to workout effectively over 40
  2. Examples of functional fitness in our daily lives
  3. Functional fitness exercises to include in your workout
  4. Muscle groups to include in a full body workout


Exercise is important to maintain our strength and overall health as we age. Including a well-balanced exercise routine in our schedule can help us look and feel our best.

As I have aged, I notice that my body responds to exercise differently than it did before. I have had to shift my exercise routine to adapt to my changing body, energy levels, work and life pressures, limited time and the need to rest and recover for optimal health.

Our bodies, including our muscles, bones and joints, go through many changes as we age. Many of the challenges that people face with their joints, muscles and bones are due to a lack of use.

A good exercise programme can help counter the effects of aging to keep us moving well as the years pass.

Elements of a good exercise plan to workout effectively over 40

We commonly think of cardio, strength and flexibility training when we consider elements of a fitness plan.

As we age, it is important to focus on movements that will allow us to move freely and pain free to be able to be independent as long as possible. Including functional fitness as a key element of a good exercise plan will help keep your body functioning at its best as you age.


Including cardio in your schedule is as simple as a walk in the park! Cardio doesn’t need to involve treadmills, cross trainers or other equipment in a gym that can seem daunting and involve a commute to get to.

Examples of Cardio exercises:

  • Running
  • Walking
  • Stair climbing
  • Dancing
  • Swimming
  • HIIT (high intensity interval training)



As we age, our lean muscle mass decreases and our body fat increases. Strength training helps to counter some of the effects of aging and allows us to build and maintain our muscle mass and strength.

Including strength training as we age has many benefits:

  • Strengthen bones
  • Improve balance
  • Improve muscle tone
  • Increase insulin sensitivity



Stretching is an important part of an exercise programme if you are over 40. As we age, the flexibility of our muscles decreases, and the mobility of our joints can reduce.

Continuing to stretch our joints through its full range of motion helps to keep us moving well as we age.

Elements of a good exercise plan to workout effectively over 40

Functional Fitness

Functional fitness prepares and allows you to perform everyday activities efficiently and pain free. Work outs focusing on functional fitness mimic everyday actions, recruiting the major muscle groups to perform.

Committing to functional fitness helps to prevent injuries performing physical tasks as we age.

Examples of functional fitness in our daily lives include:

  • Bending down to pick up a heavy bag of groceries, then carrying it in from the boot of the car before lifting in on to the kitchen side.
  • Getting in and out of vehicles of various sizes; from cars that are low to the ground to larger SUVs.
  • Picking up precious Grandchildren for a cuddle.
  • Kneeling down to tend to your garden then easily being able to stand back up again.
Functional fitness to exercise over 40

Functional fitness exercises to include in your workout

Exercises that help to increase functional fitness include compound exercises, which require more than one muscle group to work together to complete.


Functional fitness exercises to include in your workout

1. Squats

Squats replicate the motion of sitting down in a chair then standing back up again:

  • Feet hip width apart, abs engaged, neutral spine
  • Initiate squat by bending from hips and knees while bringing your hips back (imagine tapping your backside on a chair behind you each time)
  • Lower under control to a comfortable range of motion
  • Knees in line with toes and heels to floor throughout the squat
  • Drive through thighs to lift upwards
How to exercise over 40, squats

2. Lunges

Lunges include a motion that imitates getting back up off the ground:

  • Take a large step forward, planting your foot in front of you
  • Lower your back knee toward the ground, bending your knees to reach 90 degrees.
  • Be careful that your front knee doesn’t move forward in front of the toes of your front foot.
  • Keep back tall over top of the back knee.
  • Push off your front foot to return to the starting position.
  • Repeat.
Exercising over 40, lunges

3. Lateral leg swings

Leg swings help to improve balance:

  • Try to keep the knees straight on the leg that you're swinging.
  • Hold on to something for balance if needed.
  • Stand on one leg. This will be your starting position.
  • Keeping your leg straight, raise it as far out to the side as possible, and allow the leg to swing back in front of your body, then crossing the opposite leg.
  • Repeat this swinging motion.
Exercising over 40, leg swings

4. Overhead press (shoulder press)

An overhead press helps to build upper body strength as well as your core and stabilising muscles:

  • Stand upright, with feet shoulder width apart.
  • Hold dumbbells at shoulder height, fists outwards.
  • Press the dumbbells overhead, extending your arms fully.
  • Make sure to keep your back flat and remain upright throughout.
  • Return to starting position.
Exercising over 40, shoulder press

5. Press Ups

This compound exercise has a number of levels to fit your fitness level.

  • Lie with your chest facing down, palms flat on the floor and slightly more than shoulder-width apart, your feet should be together and your legs straight.
  • Push your body upwards and straighten your arms.
  • Lower your body returning to starting position.
Exercising over 40, press ups

6. Plank

Planks help to build a strong core and require mobility and balance:

  • Lie face down on a mat with elbows resting on the floor next to your chest, palms facing forward or in a fist position, feet together.
  • Push your body off the floor in a push up position with your body resting on your elbows or hands.
  • Contract the abs and keep the body in a straight line from head to toes.
  • Hold for 30-60 seconds, then lower your body to return to the starting position.
  • Leave your knees on the floor if you would like to modify the exercise.
Exercising over 40, plank

Muscle groups to include in a full body workout

A full body workout will focus on 5 main groups of muscles:

  1. Quads – the front of your legs.
  2. Bum and Hamstrings – the back of your legs.
  3. Chest, shoulders and triceps – these muscles work together as your ‘push’ muscles.
  4. Back, biceps and grip – these muscles work together as your ‘pull’ muscles.
  5. Core – this includes your abdominals and lower back.
Muscle groups to include in a full body workout over 40

You don’t need to join a gym or attend a group fitness class to increase your fitness and improve your health. Workouts don’t need to be long, sweat inducing sessions that are hard to fit into your schedule and difficult to motivate yourself to do.

Commit to regularly moving your body, whether that is with a 10-minute walk or a 5-minute strength session. Small actions over time make a significant change to your fitness and health.

Hutton Health offers monthly memberships and personalised programmes to empower you to workout from the comfort of your home, anytime, anywhere in the world.

Hutton Health monthly membership


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