Fit and 40-Plus

How to get (and stay) active, no matter what your age

By Barbara Russi Sarnataro
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD/LD

In your 40s and beyond, fitness tends to take on a new shape. Exercise routines you once found merely challenging may become painful or even impossible by the time you're 40, 50, or 60.

It doesn't matter whether you're male or female, a kickboxer or a mall walker -- sooner or later, age will have an effect on your body.

It happens to everyone -- even Sheila Cluff, 68, founder of The Oaks at Ojai Destination Spa in Ojai, Calif. Cluff, a former professional figure skater, is quick to tell you that she can do 70 pushups and ski black diamond runs with her grandchildren. But she can't do everything she used to do.

"Even if you're modestly fit or quite fit, there's still an effect of the aging process," says Cluff. "The body will shift and change.

"It is also natural in the aging process," she says, "to automatically lose a sense of balance."

She discovered that when she tried taking her grandchildren ice-skating after 30 years off the ice: "I was all over the place," she says.

But instead of throwing in the towel, she used the incident as an impetus to improve.

"I wanted to cut the risk of falling. I practice balance on land consistently," she says, "and now I'm back to jumps and spins. Now as a result, I'm a better snow skier."