Smart Exercise Advice for Women 40+
Exercise is an important part of maintaining a healthy life. Not only does it reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease, it provides energy and endorphins to help you lead a fuller, happier life.
Whether you’re just starting out or a lifelong enthusiast, Kierstin Mitchell, certified personal trainer at the Virtua Fitness Center, has some tips to help you keep exercising for the next 40 years and beyond.
Pay attention to your body. Do you feel greater strain in your joints or find it harder to complete exercise routines? It’s not just you. After 40, all women lose elasticity in connective tissues (ligaments and tendons) and muscle mass declines.
Take time to stretch and warm up, and if pain persists, try to change things up. A personal trainer can recommend new exercises that decrease stress on your joints while still challenging your body.
Raise Your Rate
As you age, your metabolism declines and your body burns fewer calories. Aerobic exercise is a great way to offset this change.
If you’re feeling discomfort in your knees and ankles, don’t stop exercising. Simply switch things up. Cycling, walking and swimming will help you burn calories while sparing your joints.
Use Your Body
Strength training is the best way to offset muscle and bone loss. Body-weight exercises like push-ups, squats and planks are all great ways to build core strength and endurance, and they also help increase your heart rate.
Just remember to be careful to maintain proper alignment.
Beware the Bulge
Many women over 40 will develop some unwanted belly fat due to hormonal changes. This can be discouraging, even for women who have maintained lifelong exercise habits.
It’s important not to get discouraged, and keep up a routine. Planking exercises are especially effective because they increase your heart rate and carry a lower risk for lower back injury than sit-ups and crunches.
Group exercise classes are a great way to stay motivated and challenge your body in new ways. They create a sense of community and encouragement with others who may be facing similar challenges.
Whatever you do, Mitchell encourages all women to “try to get in there and get working. When you exercise, it’s rewarding and makes you feel happy.”
Updated January 13, 2022