We all know fitness is one of the keys to longevity. Not only does staying in shape help you look good and feel good, but it also drastically increases your healthspan, meaning the number of years you are not just alive, but actually able to enjoy life to the fullest capacity and appreciate the activities you cherish most, from hiking to biking to swimming. Unfortunately, as you hit your 30s (and beyond), you cannot expect to go all out on your workouts without paying for it. There are some fitness habits that destroy your body before you even reach 40 that you should be aware of.
While much of fitness culture focuses on constantly maxing out in the weight room, on the treadmill, or just red-lining whatever exercise you happen to perform, this is a major no-no if your goal is true longevity in your body. Furthermore, exercise alone is not enough. If you do not develop good habits before you reach 40, time can catch up to you much quicker than you might expect.
The following are the seven worst fitness habits I routinely see in my clients that begin destroying their bodies before 40. However, even folks in their teens and 20s will pay dearly for these habits if they do not get them under control sooner rather than later. If you want to keep your body lean, fit, and healthy as you age, avoid these at all costs!
Keep reading to learn about some of the worst habits that destroy your body before 40, and next, be sure to check out 6 Popular Exercises That Totally Wreck Your Body.
If you are like some of my more motivated clients, getting to the gym and hitting your workout is not a big issue. As a matter of fact, more often than not, my most passionate clients end up swinging too far in the other direction and put themselves at risk through overtraining.
The fact of the matter is that fitness gains do not occur during your workout. They are actually a response to the workout stressor which your body will adapt to while you rest and recover. That being said, avoid too many days in a row of intense exercise. If you perform a challenging workout on two consecutive days, be sure to take a rest day in between. You can still do active recoveries such as a light walk or jog, but do not push yourself to the limit on day three, or you risk overtraining. This can set you back by weeks and potentially risk injury and other disruptions to your health such as reduced immune function.
It’s often tempting to load up as much weight as you can on the barbell every time you step in the gym and push it past the limit where you can execute technique with proper form. This is a major problem. Proper exercise form allows you to safely perform each move to maximize the benefit and minimize the risk. While a single repetition without perfect form won’t totally crush you, if you constantly trade off good form for adding more weight or intensity, you’ll eventually get injured. Consider hiring a personal trainer for a few sessions if you do not have the current ability to use correct exercise technique when you work out or need some assistance.
If you are on a super tight schedule and routinely do short, intense workouts, you might be tempted to skip your warm-up and cool-down. While this may save you some time in the short run, you will hinder your progress in the long run and even risk injury. Plus, warm-ups can help performance during your workout, maximizing the benefits. Cool-downs help your body reset and begin recovering after you finish your exercises. Add five minutes of light cardio before your workout and a few minutes of stretching afterward for a simple and effective warm-up/cool-down routine.
Rapid weight loss can be tempting, and drastically cutting calories is an approach many people opt for. However, when you severely cut calories in favor of short-term weight loss, you can miss out on essential nutrients and also stunt your metabolism. For the best results, follow a modest caloric reduction that you can sustain long-term for the healthiest and most reliable weight loss. Trust me—your body and your appearance will thank you.
We all have our favorite type of workout or exercise modality. While it’s fine to primarily focus on one form of exercise, do not neglect a well-rounded fitness routine. For instance, if you are a distance runner or enjoy longer endurance-type activities, consider adding one or two resistance training sessions to your workout schedule. If you tend to favor the weight room over the treadmill, that’s okay, too, but try adding a few 20-minute sessions of cardio each week for maximal health benefits.
Discomfort and pain are your body’s way of telling you that something is not quite right. While there is a difference between normal workout discomfort and serious pain, you need to listen to your body if you have a joint acting up or you feel exceptionally tired. Consider modifying your workout or changing modalities if you have something that’s irritating you. If you feel exceptionally tired and worn out, taking an extra rest day is also not the end of the world, and again, your body will thank you.
The last of these habits that destroy your body before 40 is neglecting sleep and recovery time. While some people love to think of themselves as being on #teamnosleep, the bottom line is that your body absolutely needs enough sufficient sleep each night for optimal health, performance, recovery, and longevity. If you skip out on restful sleep consistently, you will soon begin functioning at much lower levels, accumulate overall fatigue, stop seeing results in the gym, and ultimately put your health at serious risk.
While not everyone necessarily needs a full eight to nine hours a night, most people need at least seven hours. So consider giving yourself an eight-hour window to sleep. If you wake up early, maybe seven will be enough. However, if you only give yourself six hours or less to sleep each night, you are not doing yourself any favors. It’s always a smart idea to check in with your healthcare provider to see what’s the best course of action for you and your body.