The Worst Exercises for People Over 40, According To Doctors

With these workouts, the ends definitely do not justify the means.

Not all workouts are created equal, especially once you reach 40. At this age, your joints are getting weaker, your bones are more fragile, and your heart isn't in the shape it used to be in. As a result, the workouts that you used to do in your 20s and 30s might not be ideal for your 40-year-old self. Curious which moves and machines to avoid at the gym now that you're getting older? These are the worst exercises for those in their 40s and beyond, according to medical professionals.


Older man doing deadlifts at the gym

Though resistance training is a great way to keep your muscles active and your bones healthy as you age, one specific exercise you should avoid is deadlifts. "As you get older, your muscles and bones become weaker and you can injure yourself more easily," explains Nikola Djordjevic, MD, a family physician and medical advisor for LoudCloudHealth. "Deadlifts are incredibly difficult even to younger athletes and require you to be in very good shape."

Jumping Jacks

Woman doing jumping jacks in the park

"If you don't work out regularly, you shouldn't try intense cardio training without proper preparation," warns Djordjevic. "Even with that, it's best to stick to lower intensity workouts, which help strengthen your muscles and keep you in shape without increasing your heartbeat too much." He suggests avoiding high-intensity aerobics exercises and jumping jacks, both of which can "put too much stress on your body and cause more harm than good."


Man doing sit-ups at home on the floor of his bedroom

Core strength is important—especially in your 40s, when a strong core can both alleviate and prevent back pain. However, when you're working on your six-pack, one exercise to avoid is sit-ups. According to Allen Conrad, BS, DC, CSCS, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and owner of the Montgomery County Chiropractic Center in Pennsylvania, this is "a high-risk exercise if you suffer from neck or low back pain." Conrad adds, "Most people when doing sit-ups end up pulling on their neck, which can lead to neck spasms and pain."


Woman Running on a Treadmill at the Gym

When you're in your 40s, brisk walking, jogging, and even running with the proper training are A-OK. Sprint running, on the other hand, is one of the worst exercises as far as your aging body is concerned.

As Lina Velikova, MD, PhD, a clinical immunologist and contributor to DisturbMeNot, explains, this intense form of cardio "can put too much strain on the heart for people over 40. Unless you're a professional runner that has a lifetime of intense training, avoid this and opt for moderate cardio."


older man doing squats, health changes after 40

"Knee joints deteriorate naturally with age. When you're in your 40s, it's best to avoid exercises that can damage any joints, and squats require a lot of strength in your knees," says Velikova. If you want to keep the squat in your regular workout regimen, you can always do the chair squat, which incorporates a chair into the exercise and thereby puts less strain on your joints.

No Exercise At All

watching television obsolete home items

Ultimately, the worst exercise after 40 is no exercise at all. "The more you don't move, the more pain you are going to have down the line," explains Jenna Kantor, PT, DPT, a New York-based physical therapist and owner of Jenna Kantor Physical Therapy PLLC. Staying active is the best thing you can do for your body from head to toe. And for more things to do away with for the sake of your health in your 40s, here are 40 Habits Doctors Wish You'd Stop After 40.

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