The best type of exercise is the one you enjoy that keeps you coming back for more.
Changes happen over time and the important thing is to get active and find that exercise that keeps you active. That’s never truer than in our 40s.
One great exercise that’s worth a try and hard to beat for general health and fitness, or as a cross-training tool, is indoor rowing. At many fitness centres, the rowing machine is ubiquitous, but underused and under-promoted.
Indoor rowing is a great warm-up tool before your workout, but as part of your workout or as the focus of your workout, it offers many benefits, especially to those over 40. It’s a low-impact, full-body strength and fitness tool, which can be both a great entry point for fitness beginners or an extreme challenge for seasoned athletes.
There are lots of online resources to help you nail the technique, suggest workouts, log your results and eventually get competitive if that’s your thing. Check out www.concept2.com/indoor-rowers/training.
If you’re already practising your chosen sport on most days, then swapping out an existing workout for a session on the indoor rower could be a great change of pace. You can focus on improvements in strength, endurance, rhythm or cardio while working the body in a different way from your regular training. There can be cross-training benefits for many sports, including golf, athletics, rugby and many others, with workouts tailored to suit each one.
If you’re new to exercise, then a few weeks learning and practising proper technique with some slow, light rowing can wake up underused muscles and gradually rebuild cardiovascular efficiency. Building up to a steady 20-minute row is a great first challenge, but there are plenty of other goals to keep you motivated, and free online tools to track your progress.
The variety of possible workouts is almost endless and could focus on any of the metrics that are displayed and recorded for each stroke. Power, speed, resistance and stroke rate can all be incorporated into your sessions.
For the experienced exerciser, there are not many challenges you can complete in only six to 10 minutes that are more intense than trying to personal best your two-kilometre row. Or, why not try and see how far you can go? The standard event distances go all the way up to Marathon (42.195 kilometres) or even 100 kilometres.
Tony Watts is a 50-something-year-old fitness fan who teaches cardiovascular and weight/resistance training classes at gyms on Grand Cayman.