The ideal workout looks different for everyone. Let’s take a look at why.
You’re an active person who exercises regularly, but lately, you’ve noticed that the same reps you’ve always completed don’t seem to be giving you the same results.
You’re a sedentary person, maybe working at a desk job, and you get essentially no exercise. It’s never been a problem before, but lately, you’ve noticed that you’re gaining weight even though your eating habits haven’t changed.
Or maybe you are a person who is somewhere in the middle: mildly active, trying to eat right while balancing a busy family schedule – but you notice your body is changing in spite of no noticeable changes to exercise or diet.
What if I told you that the changes in all three of these examples are due to the same reason?
It’s a simple truth that women often don’t want to face, but there it is. As women approach the mid-century mark, their bodies and metabolism change, and not always for the better.
The good news is that there are simple steps you can take so your routine keeps you on a healthy path.
First, let’s take a quick look at why these changes occur. Then I’ll give you some tips on the best exercises for women over 50.
It’s the one just about every woman dreads. You’ve read horror stories about brain fog, hot flashes, and unexplained weight gain.
For some women, these changes start in their 40s with perimenopause. Regardless of when it starts, it’s going to have effects on you at some point.
Most people have a general understanding that menopause is when a women’s monthly cycle stops occurring regularly, eventually ceasing altogether. But there are other things going on – and those are the culprits for the above-mentioned issues.
As monthly cycles cease to be regular, there is less estrogen produced in the body. Estrogen is a great natural regulator in women’s bodies. It is sort of the balancing hormone, keeping everything from bones to weight to heart function on an even keel.
It makes sense then, that as it is depleted, these systems can go haywire. The rate of bone loss can speed up, causing joint pain, arthritis, and osteoporosis. Metabolism slows down, so weight gain is probable which can lead to obesity. The heart can also be affected, resulting in an increased risk for heart attacks or stroke.
Those are very simplistic answers, but now you have a background as to why the changes occur. So, in order to establish a routine that remains effective, here are some things to consider.
Variety is key.
Maybe you have always been able to get away with solely doing cardio exercises. Or possibly resistance has been your best friend. As we see in the examples above, there are a lot of changes in play, so your workout needs to address each of those.
You don’t have to run miles or complete 45-minute workouts to maintain your cardio health as you age. Walking, swimming and jogging are all effective ways to exercise your bigger muscles which will help improve your cardio health. Start with short periods of time, and try to work up to 20 minutes, three or four days a week.
No need for big lifting or weight machines. Simply using hand weights to increase motion can help combat muscle loss. Use weights that are comfortable to hold and start with simple exercises that work all your arm muscles (biceps, triceps, delts). Start with 5 reps, working your way up to 12 reps.
An extra benefit of strength training with hand weights is that you’re toning your arms at the same time. And you don’t have to join a gym to see great results.
Keeping joints and muscles flexible can affect how your body reacts to other forms of exercise. Let’s face it, if you’re too sore from one exercise, chances are that you’ll skip a day or two to recover. And that makes it harder to maintain a routine.
Simple stretching exercises found in yoga or Pilates can keep muscles limber which, in turn, can boost your tolerance and stamina for whatever cardio you choose.
Notice that I didn’t give you full programs or workouts to try. To be honest, there aren’t a lot of “over 50” programs that address the specific problems that I discussed above. Maybe it’s time that changed. Hmmmmm……
The most important thing to remember is to keep moving. Find something that you enjoy doing and keep at it. Do you have access to a pool? Water aerobics is a great way to get cardio, strength/resistance, and stretching all in one.
Maybe music is your jam. Put on your favorite music and move to it. Even 30 minutes a day can make a difference. Listen to music while you clean the house or cook? Put some shimmy into it.
If you prefer simple, low-stress, easy-on-the-joints exercise just get out and walk. Find a nearby nature trail or scenic area to walk – you’d be surprised at how far you can go if you have other things to focus on (instead of thinking about how far you walked).
It goes without saying that whether you’re establishing a new routine or adapting an old one, you should check with your doctor first, just to confirm that what you are looking at will be beneficial to you personally.
But you know your body best and you should pick exercises that you will enjoy. That will greatly increase the chances of you sticking with the program.
So, find activities that improve your cardio, increase your strength and flexibility, and just flat out make you happy.
You got this. Now go conquer that M word and show it who’s boss!
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