How do we keep our bodies strong, healthy and young after 50?
We all know that exercise is good for us and all probably agree in a vague general kind of way that we should “exercise more and eat less”.
It’s hard to argue that sitting on your butt all day is more beneficial than being up and about, doing some kind of physical exercise.
Why do I care so much about my health now I’m over 50?
For me, honestly, it’s a combination of the commitment to take care of myself physically as I get older, but you know what? There is another important factor. I’m vain. There, I said it. I want to look as good as I can, for me. As a result, I am committed to exercise, maintain my weight, color away the gray, put on some makeup and in general keep myself looking relatively spiffy on a daily basis.
Benefits of Exercise over 50
What really are the benefits? For some folks, if they know the specific impact something will have on them, they might be more apt to make the decision to get healthy.
- Exercise helps maintain your weight and lose weight. The more exercise in your life, particularly with some intensity, the more calories you’ll burn. Pretty simple.Time set aside to exercise is great, but you can also burn calories with normal daily activities. When I am at the office I will walk down the hall to talk with a coworker rather than picking up the phone, because I know that those steps add up over the course of a day. Take the stairs rather than the elevator if you can – that is great exercise.
- Relieve and reduced stress are clear benefits derived from exercise. For me, there is nothing like a brisk (really brisk) walk to burn off steam. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed than you were before you worked out, and can also help prevent depression.
- Increase your energy level with exercise. Physical activity delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. In fact, regular physical activity helps your entire cardiovascular system — the circulation of blood through your heart and blood vessels — work more efficiently. So the benefits are clear here…you can actually increase your energy level by exercising regularly.
- Help combat chronic diseases with exercise. For women over 50, osteoporosis is a concern as bone mass is affected by menopause. Heart disease, high blood pressure, cholesterol, type 2 diabetes…even certain types of cancer…you can take control of your destiny to a certain extent simply by adding a regular exercise routine to your lifestyle.
- Improve your sex life with exercise? Yes, you can. With the increased energy you’ll have, a more positive feeling about yourself may result, not to mention a more toned up version of you! Also, regular physical activity can lead to enhanced arousal for women, and men who exercise regularly are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction than are men who don’t exercise — especially as they get older.
So there are some very specific benefits for women over 50 to exercise. For some folks, that’s enough to get them going. Others need a little bit more motivation to incorporate a healthy lifestyle into their life.
- Think about how much better you’ll feel after working out. It’s really true. Even though I might be sweating and pushing myself to finish, I always feel that sense of accomplishment when my workout is complete.
- Sometimes setting a goal based on an event taking place in the future is a real motivator. A wedding, vacation, anniversary, etc. All can be events that help spur you to action and keep you going!
- Remind yourself of the benefits to YOU of regular exercise. You’re helping to reduce the onset of some chronic illnesses that could change your life significantly. Get up and do it!
- Workout time can be just for you…no one else. It’s a time to get the physical activity, of course, but it can also be a time to think, reflect, plan and otherwise be focused on yourself. As a multi-tasker for years, this always helps to motivate me!
The benefits of exercise for women of all ages are enormous. Healthier, stronger bones mean so much to us as we go through menopause.
Best Workouts for women over 50? a combination of weight training and aerobic exercise, will go a long way toward a healthy body and outlook as we get older.
Strength Training for Women in Their Fifties
Strength training exercises are a must for women, particularly as they reach mid-life and menopause.
Start and stay committed to a weight based workout program, and you’ll enjoy the benefits as you mature.
Most of us know that exercise is good for us, and that there are basically two forms of exercise: cardio training and strength training.
It’s generally agreed that a combination of both types of workouts will provide the most benefit to us in the long run.
For some, strength training is set aside in favor of cardio…brisk walking, jogging, stair climbing, cycling, etc. You can burn 10 to 12 calories a minute running or cycling, so a half hour of moderately intense cardio can burn a good number of calories.
How does that compare to strength training exercises?
If you lift weights, you’ll receive a metabolic spike for about an hour afterwards because your body is trying to help your muscles recover.
What does that mean? You’ll burn an additional 25% of the calories just worked off during your workout, so how cool is that?
Bonus: If you can lift heavier weights and rest no more than 30 seconds in-between sets you can burn even more calories. I have started to do this for a 30 minute strength training workout.
I will do my weight set, then do a set of crunches or glute exercises, then go back to a set of weights. I vary the type of set I am doing as well as the crunches/glutes, and just keep on going for a solid 30 minutes. It is definitely a workout!
And it gets even better than that. You can burn an extra 120 calories per day for every three pounds of muscle you build, because muscle takes more energy to sustain. That’s reason enough for me to move up to a little heavier weight and build that muscle!
Benefits of Strength Training
Strength training exercises provide many benefits for us as we go through life, and particularly for women experiencing menopause. There is quite a list, and it should serve to motivate all of use to action:
- Osteoporosis: Woman who are post-menopausal can lose 1% to 2% of their bone mass annually. Studies have shown that strength training increases bone density and also reduces the risk of fractures for women between the ages of 50 and 70.
- Weight Control: Strength training can provide up to a 15% increase in metabolic rate, so it is another benefit of weight workouts. Muscles are active tissues that consume calories as opposed to stored fat, which does exactly what you would think it does…nothing but sit there and be fatty. What would you choose?
- Arthritis: Studies have shown that older men and women with moderate to severe knee osteoarthritis were able to decrease pain by 43% by using strength training. And, the results were just as potent as when using medications.
- Improved Balance: Particularly beneficial as we age, proper strength training exercises can increase a person’s flexibility and balance, thus reducing the likelihood of falls and the injuries that can result.
- Sleeping: When exercising regularly people enjoy improved quality of sleep. Strength training can provide some of the same benefits as medication, but without the expense and side effects.
- State of Mind:The benefits of strength training reaches to our overall confidence and self esteem, particularly in older adults.
If you work out regularly, including a combination of cardio and strength training, you will probably agree with me that it just makes you feel GOOD. Of course there are sore muscles and some sweating involved, but the result can literally give you a more positive outlook on life.
If you don’t know what I mean…give it a try and you’ll see. There is nothing like a consistent workout program, no matter what your age or gender.
Workout Routines for Women Over 50
In this section you will find workout routines for senior women that will help keep you fit, strong and healthier as you mature.
Find out why it is so important for a women experiencing menopause to remain active, and learn which exercise plans are most effective.
Okay, so I know that my body is beginning to ‘betray’ me in that I am noticing sags and bags where there used to be young, firm (well, sort of firm) flesh.
For me, the weight gain is not massive, a few pounds, but the shift in where I carry it is frustrating. I now understand the comments about gravity taking hold of your body.
Workout routines for women like me, and anyone else over 50, can help not only weight issues, but the firmness of our bodies and the strength of our muscles.
This is HUGE as we get older, because our muscle mass and bone density are declining, and we absolutely need to commit to an exercise program to combat these losses.
What should a woman over 50 do for exercise?
The American College of Sports Medicine offers fitness guidelines specifically for us, ladies of the Over 50 Club:
Perform weight training exercises for 20 to 30 minutes 2 to 3 times a week to condition all of the major muscle groups. That will include your arms, legs, shoulders and trunk.
The weight used should allow you to lift 10 to 15 repetitions per set before your muscles become fatigued. This is an individual decision, and also depends upon how much you have been weight training.
You might start with lighter weights and work up to something a little heavier. I use anywhere from 5 lb. to 15 lb. weights when I strength train, depending on the exercise I am doing.
Remember that strength training is the only exercise program that can slow, and even reverse, the decline in muscle mass and bone density, so should be included in exercise routines for women over 50.
Your workout should not cause you pain, although some fatigue after performing your sets is to be expected.
If you feel joint or nerve pain, or are putting a tremendous amount of strain on any part of the body, you’re probably going overboard and can harm yourself. Because strains, sprains, and tissue damage can take weeks or even months to heal, preventing injury should be a priority. Use common sense and take things slowly when weight training.
Aerobic activity is also a critical part of any workout routine for a woman over 50. Keep in mind that if you have not been exercising regularly, don’t just jump off the couch, throw on your walking shoes and go for a 3 mile hike the first day!
Work up to your aerobic routine, just like you would when beginning a weight training program. If you are over 60 years old, it is advised to implement a weight training program 2 to 3 times a week for 3-4 weeks, to strengthen the leg, arm and trunk muscles before beginning an aerobic activity workout.
What type of aerobic activity do you enjoy?
There is a choice, you know! Here is a list of a few suggestions for you to consider:
- Walking – it’s a great cardio exercise for your heart, and also helps build strength in the lower body. This is one of my best exercises!
- Swimming/Water Aerobics – no special equipment for swimming is required, it’s low resistance and can give you a total body workout. Water aerobics can burn up to 300 calories per hour plus build stamina and endurance in women over 50.
- Cycling – hop on an indoor bicycle and experience the low impact benefits of this aerobic workout. It increases lower body strength and heart rate, a great combination for staying fit. If your climate allows, gear up and ride your bike outdoors.
- Pilates – can be a great source of stretching and toning to increase circulation as well as flexibility. For women 50 and older, maintaining flexibility and preserving muscle tone are a top priority
- Yoga – this is a great way to improve your overall strength and endurance, while improving flexibility.
Workouts for older women are programs designed to help us maintain our health as well as our shape, without risking injury. Always consult with your physician before embarking on a new exercise regime. Consider attending a class, where you can benefit from the instruction of a trained facilitator.
Whatever you choose, make the decision, be committed to yourself and get moving!
Kettlebell exercises provide a unique type of training that target almost every aspect of physical fitness, including endurance, strength, balance, agility and cardio.
Learn more about this versatile, simple yet complete type of workout.
So, what is a kettlebell, anyway?
(note that it’s not kettleBALL, but kettleBELL). Perhaps this is a new term for you in the world of exercise and fitness?
Actually, this versatile piece of workout equipment has been in existence for hundreds of years in Eastern Europe, and was popular in the U.S. decades ago.
Now, a resurgence of exercises and workout routines using kettlebells is sweeping the nation, largely due to it’s many benefits to overall physical fitness.
Kettlebells are made of cast iron and look like a cannonball with a purse handle attached to it. When working with this piece of equipment, you hold the handle with one or both hands, so it is the only item used in kettlebell exercises.
While holding the kettlebell, you go through a variety of swings, pulling and pressing motions, sometimes using one hand, sometimes both hands, and other times changing from one hand to the other.
As a result of these movements, you must stabilize your body and engage your core, and use the power from your legs and hips to move the weight, with particular emphasis focused on the core and back muscles.
Your entire body is involved in movements that may be missing from other forms of fitness training. That is what makes kettlebell workouts so effective.
How does a kettlebell differ from dumbbell? Well, the shape is pretty obvious, but along with that difference is how gravity affects your workout.
Dumbbell training focuses on muscle and strength building with slow, controlled movements, targeting specific muscles and muscle groups.
When you hold a dumbbell, the center of gravity lies in your hand. When you hold a kettlebell, the center of gravity changes depending on how you are holding and moving it. Kettlebell exercises and movements closely resembe real life movements and thus help to strengthen the areas of our bodies that we need on a daily basis.
Here are Some benefits of Kettlebell exercises
- Better posture and alignment
- Increased bone density…significant for women as they mature and go through menopause
- Improved agility and coordination (I’m always up for that)
- Increased endurance
- Simple, time efficient exercises…always a plus
If exercise with a kettlebell sounds like something you would like to learn, you have several options:
If you want to read and study, here is an kettlebell exercise book, Body Sculpting With Kettlebells for Women by Lorna Kleidman is a good one.
Or, you might find a local class with instructor training, to make sure you are learning the proper way to hold and move the kettlebell.
Lower Abdominal Exercises
Ladies, lower abdominal exercises can help you battle the belly fat that occurs with menopause.
Find out more about what you can do to workout those muscles as well as make other lifestyle changes and find your trimmer, slimmer self.
So you’ve noticed the bulge below the waist?
I know I have…it made an appearance as I entered my fifties along with my little friend, menopause. You might have a friend by that name, too 🙂
Regardless of the reason, we all want that stomach bulge to go away, and lower abdominal exercises play a key role in that plan. Keep in mind that there is more to regaining your trimmer self than targeted exercises.
First, let’s determine where that extra fat really is. Your stomach is located right below your breastbone and ends in your navel area. Below that are the lower abdominals.
This is the area we tend to call our ‘stomach’, but it really isn’t. It is your lower abdominal region that is getting larger.
Why does this happen? Well, if you are a women experiencing menopause, your metabolism has slowed down and along with a variety of other symptoms, there is a collection of fat that appears around your ‘belly’.
For others it could be your genetic makeup, or there could be a physical/medical reason for it, so a consultation with your physician might be in order.
Three Part Plan to a Flatter Stomach
- First, take a look at your diet, because you may have to make some rather significant adjustments to lower calories and fat, and eat more nutritiously. Read more about Healthy Eating Plans.
- Make regular aerobic exercise part of your overall workout plan, three to five times per week. Whether you walk, jog, swim, zumba, ride a bicycle…DO SOMETHING AEROBIC. You will work toward toning your entire body, including the stomach and abdominal area.
- Work the lower abdominals with targeted exercises. This, combined with number one and number two on this little list, will help you firm up that messy little area of your body. I’m up for that!
Let’s talk more about working the lower abdominals, which are actually the lower part of the rectus abdominis.
This is the main muscle that runs from your lower chest down to your pubic bone.
One effective way to focus on the lower abs is to lift the hips while stabilizing the upper body, because it focuses the effort on the lower section of the abdominals.
Here are some simple lower abdominal exercises that are not hard, they don’t require the use of any equipment and thus are less likely to cause injury than other types of strength building. Incorporate these exercises into your workout routine:
NOTE: Perform these lower abdominal exercises S-L-O-W-L-Y for maximum effectiveness
- Scissors: Lie on your back, with your hands under your bottom. Contract your lower abs, tighten your leg muscles and lift both your legs up, until they are about two feet off the floor.Without bending the knees, cross your right leg over your left leg, then open your legs out, and close them again, reversing the positions of the legs. Keep repeating this scissoring action, keeping your lower abs contracted, about 8-10 times. As you get stronger increase to 15-20 reps.
- Double Leg Circles: Lie on your back, hands under your bottom. Contract your lower abs, and lift both legs a few inches off the floor.Rotate both legs together in circles, making 5 circles in a clockwise direction. Lower your legs to the floor and relax for a few seconds. Then repeat the exercise with 5 counter clockwise circles. Increase to 10-15 circles as you get stronger.
- Double Leg Lifts: Lie down on your back, hands placed under your bottom, palms facing the floor.Contract your lower abdominal muscles, tighten the muscles of your legs and lift them straight up vertically. Hold them there for a few seconds. Lower legs until they are a few inches off the floor, and hold them there again for a few seconds.Repeat 5-8 times to start, and increase the reps to 15-20 times as you get stronger.
- Alternating Leg Walks: Begin by lying on your back, hands under your bottom. Contract the lower ab muscles and lift your right leg up slowly, until it is 90 degrees to your body.Then lower the right leg at the same pace, until it is a few inches off the floor, while simultaneously raising your left leg. Keep lifting your legs alternatively about 8-10 times to begin with, increasing to 15-20 times as your abs become stronger.
These exercises should give you a good start on your overall plan to tighten those lower abdominals.
Easy Butt Exercises
Here are some butt exercises for women who want to stay in shape with a consistent workout plan, maintain healthy eating habits and make wise lifestyle choices. No one in the Saggy Butt Club here!
I am not a kid anymore, and have to acknowledge that the 50’s are an age of transition, particularly for women. I must put more effort into maintaining my weight and overall look physically, which is tough to accomplish when gravity is pulling everything toward the ground.
So, I am always searching for exercises that will help me keep my body toned and at least help to ward off the natural slip-n-slide that our bodies go through as we mature.
Of course, exercise is just one piece of the puzzle. Healthy eating and lifestyle choices are just as critical to the overall plan.
Here are some easy exercises for your butt that you can fit into your workout routine, no matter your age.
The first exercise is one that has been on my workout list for years, literally. I try to do between 60 and 80 repetitions just about every day:
- BUTT SQUEEZE: Lie flat on the floor with your knees bent, arms at your sides. Lift your hips off of the floor and squeeze your glutes together; hold for a couple of seconds. Lower and repeat. If you want to make it harder, place a five pound flat weight on your stomach, and/or hold the squeeze and count to 10 before lowering. Do three sets of 10 -12 butt squeezes; work up to more if you can.
- SQUATS: Try this exercise standing very close to a wall, within a few inches. It will ensure that you lower your body correctly. Your goal is to complete this exercise without any part of your body touching the wall. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Take a deep breath. Exhale while you bend at the knees, keeping your back and shoulder straight, to a 90 degree position. Inhale as you raise up to the starting position. Do three sets of 8 – 12 repetitions per set.
- HAMSTRING CURLS: Position yourself on your hands and knees, palms flat on floor, back straight, stomach pulled in. Raise your right knee until your upper leg is parallel with the floor; hold for a count of 5; slowly lower to starting position. Repeat with left leg.Do three sets of 8 – 12 repetitions per set.
Looking for more easy exercises that you can do just about anywhere? Here are some simple toning moves that can be done while driving (very carefully, of course!), watching TV or sitting at your desk:
Tone Your Butt
You can tone the glute muscles almost anywhere by squeezing together your buttock muscles for 10 seconds and then releasing. Repeat 10 times.
Pull in Your Stomach
Flatten your stomach by breathing out and pulling your stomach in towards your back as far as possible. Hold for six seconds and release. Repeat 10 times.
Squeeze Your Thighs
Squeeze your thighs together as hard as you can. Hold for 10 seconds and release. Repeat 10 times. If this is too easy you can increase the toning effect by squeezing something like a ball between your legs.
Commit to a workout routine that includes these easy exercises, stay faithful to it, and you can help keep your body in shape as the years go by.
Inner Thigh Exercises
Thigh exercises can help with toning and firming that pesky area that tends to wiggle and jiggle more than we like.
So, what can you do to tone your inner thighs?
I am one of those people who, even though I am not a large boned person and am within my weight range, still wrestle with the jiggly inner thighs.
Whatever the cause, there are some things you can do to tone and firm this area of your body.
It is important to remember that toning certain areas of your body are part of an overall exercise program combined with healthy eating. It seems like I repeat that phrase over and over again on this site, but it’s true.
There are no magic pills, exercises or diets that will melt the fat off of our bodies specifically where we want to lose it. Bummer.
What to do?
First, remain faithful to a healthy eating plan. If you need to lose weight then reduce the calories you consume every day and combine that with increased physical activity. Learn more about losing weight during menopause.
Always make cardio training part of your overall workout routine. Although it won’t specifically target inner thighs, it will help firm your skin overall, particularly if you focus on lower body cardio activities such as running and swimming. I opt for speed walking rather than running and it works well for me.
Body weight training exercises that target the thigh area are the third part of the process. Because the thighs are comprised of a series of small muscles, each of different size, length and width, inner thigh exercises are a series of movements that tone, tighten and slim the thighs.
Here is a site that provides some excellent inner thigh exercises.
There is no magic exercise that will make the jiggle go away. But if you consider a healthy diet and exercise program to be an important part of your life you’ll be on your way to toning and firming your body, including those pesky inner thighs.
For Women Over 50
Resistance training is great for all women, yet after 50 it’s crucial for maintaining a healthy body, keeping our bones strong and fit, and helping to offset the symptoms of menopause. What are you waiting for?
If you can spare 20 to 30 minutes 3 times a week, you can burn fat, build muscle, trim up and help minimize some of the symptoms of menopause.
First, obtain the blessing of your family physician and make sure you are physically able to perform some type of resistance training.
What makes resistance, or weight training beneficial?
Your muscles are stretched when involved in this type of exercise. The after burn when finished increases the metabolism while the muscle is ‘healing’.
The increase in metabolism helps to burn more calories and build muscle mass. It will also help retain and even build bone strength, or density, always important for women going through menopause.
Why is this significant? Because you will burn 50 extra calories per day for each pound of muscle added.
It doesn’t sound like much, but it does add up, particularly if your resistance training results in a pound or two or increased muscle.
Look at it this way. A few pounds of muscle will not turn you into a body builder by any means. But, if your resistance and aerobic training is practiced faithfully and with a targeted plan in place, you’ll look trimmer and your clothes will fit better.
One important fact to remember as well (I’m speaking to myself here, too) is that increasing muscle mass may increase the scale a bit at first, so don’t get too caught up in that department.
I tend to pay too much attention to what the scale tells me even though I know that there are numerous factors that affect our day to day weight.
Here are some examples of resistance training
- Use free weights, such as dumbbells or kettlebells, to build muscle
- Use an exercise band to add resistance to your workout
- Participate in water aerobics
- Include an exercise ball as part of your ab routine
- Use your own body mass as a means to build muscle mass
Your training will be more effective if you follow these simple tips:
- Confer with a fitness trainer who can start you off in the right direction. Make sure they are experienced in working with your particular gender and age group.
- Start your workout with a good warmup and be sure to stretch when finished.
- Skip a day between resistance/strength training workouts
- As you find the repetitions easier to accomplish, increase the number of repetitions and/or weight
If you are an adult over 50 who has not been active in any type of resistance or weight training, there are some exercises you can do that will use your body weight as resistance.
It’s a great way to get started in a program like this. As always, consult with your doctor first.
You can do repetitions of:
- Standing up out of a chair without using your hands as support
- Modified push ups
Weight Training for Women
Weight training for women is as essential as cardio training when it comes to a quality exercise program.
Women over 50 in particular should not exclude weight training from their regular workout routine.
As we get older, ladies, our bodies change in ways that we don’t like. That’s a fact. We can’t turn back the clock, but we CAN live a healthy lifestyle and take action to keep our bodies looking good and feeling good from the inside out.
Weight training for women has been regarded in the past as something that should be left for the men to do…you know, muscle heads and such.
Well, it is simply not true that working with weights will make a woman bulk up. Women don’t have the natural testosterone production to build muscle like men do, so unless your plan is to become a female bodybuilder, let that one go, ok?
If your workout routine includes using moderate weights (not ultra light but not excessively heavy and intense for your age, size and level of fitness) with 12-20 reps per set, you will not bulk up.
Here are the positive and beneficial results you WILL see with a good program of weight training:
- Increased metabolism – when your muscle mass is increased, your metabolism increases, and the result is that you will burn more calories. Why? Muscle requires more energy to maintain than fat. Combine a moderate weight workout routine with sensible eating habits and you can lose some weight without feeling deprived.
- Burn fat more effectively when combined with a cardio workout. Studies have shown that 30 minutes of weight training followed by 30 minutes of cardio exercise burns up to 50% more fat than 45 minutes of straight cardio. That’s a no-brainer for me…I’ll take burning up to 50% more fat any day!
- Improved health of bones and joints. A consistent, moderate weight workout for women in their 40’s and beyond will help to keep these parts of our bodies stronger and less likely to be injured and weakened as we get older. I have tendencies toward osteopenia, which is the beginning stage of osteoporosis. You can be sure that I am lifting weights as part of my workout routine, so I can keep that under control.
- Tone areas of your body with weight training. Whether it is your upper arms, butt, thighs or other targeted area of your body, a workout routine using weights will help those sagging areas.
- Feel stronger in everything you do. You can’t help but improve your physical ability with a consistent program of weight training for women. Whether you are a golfer or a gardener, your stamina and strength will improve with a regular workout routine that includes strength training.
How do you begin a strength training program?
First, you might want to pay a visit to your local gym or fitness center, and spend some time with a trainer to make sure you are using weights and weight machines correctly.
Proper technique is critical. It’s good to start with very light weights and work up to something a little heavier.
- Allow 30 to 45 minutes for a basic workout
- Begin with 10 exercises that work on the lower body, trunk and upper body
- Set a goal of one to three sets of 8 to 12 repetitions, separated by 30 seconds of rest in between each set.
- Do strength training two days a week to begin, and work up to three days a week. If you would like to do more, keep it to one day on, one day off for rest.
- Start off easy and build up; increase the weight as you continue with your program.
Losing weight over the age of 50 is not so much different to how most women in their 30’s and 40’s also lose weight. The main difference is that in your fifties and later in life you must be very careful with your joints.
So always, always: ensure that your safety comes first.
There is little point trying to stay in shape after 50 and instead tearing a ligament or having some other injury that would make you worse off than having done nothing at all.
It is also crucial that before you start any diet or exercise plan that you check with your doctor. Someone who knows your personal health record is far and away the best person to ask about a plan you would like to start.