Fitness Over 40: How to Avoid Burnout

Beware of this motivation zapper.

Most people see it as an honorable trait. But the truth is, this particular mindset is responsible for ruining countless good intentions, especially for women working on fitness over 40.

The problem is that many people don’t identify this as a negative. In fact, this error is often viewed as an asset.

What is it, you ask?

It is the very popular ALL OR NOTHING approach.

The problem with ‘all or nothing’ is that it pretty much always leads directly to burn out.

It’s no secret that too much of anything is not good…including fitness. People who are renewing or up-leveling their commitment to exercise and nutrition may easily be tempted at the beginning to embrace an “all or nothing” attitude or ‘going for broke.’

This occurs early on and is something I often call the honeymoon effect.

It is a mistake to ‘go hard or go home’. 

Exercise is stressful. Dieting is also stressful. (a topic for another day)

A body and mind under constant stress will break, as in literally going for broke. Broke might play out as an injury, especially in bodies over 40.

Yet broke also can show up as a severe lack of motivation as a result of endless hard work and frustration with a perceived lack of progress. Trying to keep up a time sucking gym schedule can lead to giving up. This is very common, and it is completely unnecessary

Blame it on your impressionable brain.

It can be tempting to get caught up in the FOMO of cyberland. If that  (photoshopped) lady on IG is working out 6 days a week, then are we lame if we don’t work out 6 or 7 days per week?

Or, if we don’t take on the latest diet trend, are we inferior?

We are only lame or inferior if we allow our minds to believe the comparison stories in our head.

The truth is that each body has unique rest requirements. Bodies don’t conform to the work/rest cycle of some random person or new diet fad.

Your body is amazing. It gives you the information you need to make intelligent choices to rest or train.

Be on the lookout for signs like the ones below that can indicate overtraining:

  1. Severe lack of motivation after an initial period of strict adherence and little if any rest days.
  2. Lack of physical gains or even setbacks in the gym, as in not getting your lifts up
  3. Chronic aches or pains or minor injuries
  4. A profound increase in 🍰🍧cravings 🍔🧀
  5. Trouble sleeping despite exhaustion


Do yourself a favor and resist the urge to go all out during the honeymoon phase of your healthy lifestyle, especially if you are in your 40s or beyond.

It is far more beneficial for your future body and state of mind to be consistent at working out with a reasonable minimum weekly requirement that allows for rest and recovery.

Two to four sessions per week is a good starting point. From there, pay attention to how your body responds.

An increase in appetite is a good sign, it indicates a more active metabolism. Severe cravings can mean something else. Sometimes it is from overtraining. Sometimes it is from over restricting and simultaneously training hard.

More is not always better.

Avoid forcing yourself or punishing yourself for overindulging with extra workouts and long cardio. This will only increase your cravings and feed the cycle of overtraining – burnout – couch potato – self-disgust – repeat.

Without a doubt, periods of overtraining are always followed by a period of inactivity and having to start over.

Commit to the minimum, and if you have extra energy add in a workout. If not, you have completed your minimum for that week without risking burnout injuring and powerful cravings.

For over 40 fitness, be sure to get in lots of movement daily. Make a goal of getting in 10,000-15,000 steps per day. This combo of a minimum weekly goal and consistent non-exercise movement will keep your brain and motivation fresh.

Your body will have enough time to recover instead of feeling constantly drained. Your cardiovascular system will also be well conditioned.

Pssst… it is no secret that everyone over 40 needs to work at keeping their heart and vascular system well conditioned. 

 📆 Schedule in your rest days, as well as your workout days, as important appointments.

You will be that much more enthusiastic on workout days. Some women find that taking off every weekend is refreshing.

Others are bogged down during the week and view the weekend as a time to get in one or two quality workouts.

Just do what feels right. Keeping brief notes on your calendar or in a journal can be very useful feedback.

If you have questions about specific workout programming for fitness over 40,  schedule a complimentary call with me here.  We can figure out what your best options are together.

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