Don’t Let Your Midlife Crisis Hurt You


Midlife crises are typically portrayed with great lengths of exaggeration for comic relief in movies. In Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex, Gene Wilder’s characters takes a new approach to the typical conundrum of infidelity and midlife crisis.

He goes on to cheat on his wife, but when she caught him in the act, he’s in bed with a sheep wearing black garters. As viewers, we laugh at the incongruity of the situation. But, somewhere deep inside, most of us recognize it as the parody of something real.

Midlife crises do happen to most of us – not only men. They are a reminder that time is ticking away from you. Ultimately, for adults between 35 and 55 – the typical age brackets for a midlife crisis –, the main source of worry has an existential trigger.

Time is passing, and while you are not getting younger, you want to preserve your youthful strength and happiness. As a result, a midlife crisis is marked by two different but equally meaningful courses of actions.

On the one hand, people are desperate to reverse time and regain the strength and fitness of their younger years.

On the other hand, it’s a wakeup call that serves for existential self-questioning regarding your life choices so far, your state of happiness, and whether you are where you wanted to be. In short, a period of transformation, both physical and emotional, is about to begin.

And as such, it has the potential to cause more pain than gain, if you are not careful. 

Transforming the man’s cave into a gym studio 

The beloved man’s cave is a compilation of your favorite video games, gadgets, and artisan beers.

However, when you suddenly wake up one morning and consider your reflection in the mirror, you might come to one unpleasant conclusion.

It turns out that sitting on the cozy leather sofa in the basement, playing games and sipping beer – what else would you use your man’s cave for? – can have visible consequences over time.

Yes, you’ve guessed it right: That beer tummy wasn’t used to be there. You might be tempted to transform the basement into your personal gym studio to get back into shape, using a workout bench to lift weights and a treadmill to keep up with the cardio work.

It is a brilliant idea to focus on your fitness regime.

However, you might want to train in a specialist gym first where you can receive guidance from personal trainers. Indeed, midlife crisis weightlifting is typically synonymous with sharp back pain and hernia displacement.

If you are not keen to undergo hernia repair as a result of your newly found fitness interest, it’s best to go slowly with your workout. While weights are a common choice, you want to know what you’re doing and how much you can lift because putting your health at risk. 

I used to jog when I was your age

You probably still remember the days when you used to run down the street with your friends. You could play for hours at the local park without needing a break.

While it might be tempting to play along with your kids, you might want to be careful. While children are a lot smaller than adults, they are in some respects, stronger and fitter than untrained adults. Indeed, according to a study that compared boys aged 8 to 12 against untrained adults, the kids significantly outperformed the adults.

They get tired faster, but they recover quickly from intense exercise.

In other words, if you’re going to play ball games with your kids, you’re likely to feel a lot more exhausted at the end of the day than they will. Without training, it’s not safe to push through. 

Sitting all day in a hectic office is not healthy

Your body gets more sensitive to pain as you grow older.

Joint and muscle pains can need longer to heal. More importantly, your body is also submitted to high levels of stress every day as part of your job. The typical office environment is stressful. Combined with the prolonged sitting position, it’s not uncommon to develop back pains – regardless of your age.

However, you should be clear about the cause of your lower back pain. Stress-related pain can’t be treated through topical applications or fitness workouts.

Indeed, while you can condition your body to respond better to tensions through exercising, ultimately, it’s essential to understand that the midlife crisis is a stressful period during which you can try to control your body and life.

Identifying what triggers pressure is the safest way to get rid of your back pain. Switching to intensive workouts is not the solution! 

I want to get fit NOW

Getting back in shape is an honorable objective.

However, you have to be realistic with your journey. Your body didn’t lose strength and performance overnight. Therefore, it’s likely to rebuild itself to its full glory in a matter of a few workouts. You need to be dedicated to your goals.

But more importantly, you need to learn to listen to your body. Overtraining and pushing your body over the limit isn’t going to give you the shape and strength of your 20s back. It’s only going to increase the risk of injuries. In short, welcome the desire to boost your fitness but take it slowly. 

Becoming an adrenaline junkie isn’t the fountain of youth

More and more active people get hooked by extreme sensations.

There’s a complex hormonal reaction linked to the production and release of adrenaline in the body. Adrenaline prepares the body for the fight or flight response.

It’s a rush sensation. For a lot of adrenaline junkies – or extreme athletes – it’s the closest they can get to feel 100% alive.  So, of course, it’s tempting to go paragliding, or to walk on the side of a plane’s wing, for the rush of adrenaline.

But don’t let it become your primary source of fitness as dangerous activities can have dramatic consequences. 

From a physical perspective only, going through a midlife crisis can cause you a lot of pain. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to get in shape.

However, you need to put your health first. Strength, performance, and endurance are all things you can regain over time if you work hard. But don’t let your midlife crisis fears take over and push you over the limit! 

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market. Click to learn more about me

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