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Fitness tips for women working out over 50

Lisa Armstrong is the mother of two grown daughters, a yoga practitioner, an educator and a long-time freelance writer who focuses on health, wellness, and historical topics that affect humanity's personal and collective well-being.

Tips on staying slim and sexy into maturity

If you're over 50, some say you're "over the hill." Others say "50 is the new 30.'" But turning 50 doesn't have to be the end of being fit and energetic. Although it may take some patience, you can be slim, sleek and foxy into your mature years.

Older woman working out

No, you're not the same person you were when you were 25 years old.

You’ve had kids, run a business, volunteered and done many other things by the time you turn 50 years of age. But through smart eating and regular exercise, most women in their mature years are staying fit — and fabulous!

For women over 50, physical activity may help tame some of the symptoms of menopause — hot flashes, joint pain, anxiety, depression and sleep problems. Exercise also helps reduce your risks for heart disease, osteoporosis and diabetes, helps control weight and even melts belly fat.

Many difficulties of aging are linked to an inactive lifestyle. And while your chronological age may be 55, your biological age can be 35 — if you follow a consistent exercise program.

That's why, if exercise could be bottled, everyone would take it, says Cedric Bryant, chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise. He adds that the effects of exercise are so potent, it influences every physiological system in the body for the better!

Your changing body over 50

The American Association of Retired Persons points out that after the age of 50, you lose muscle mass at the rate of about half a pound per year — especially if you don't exercise to retain it. You are also susceptible to bone weakening, often caused by osteoporosis. Strength training and weight-bearing cardiovascular exercise, such as walking, jogging or hiking, can help you maintain bone density and prevent frailty.

A gradual progression

Assess your current level of fitness by looking at the level of activity that you do now; then increase the intensity, frequency and length of your workouts gradually over time. For example, if you have been exercising for 30 minutes twice a week at a moderate level, you could add a third session during the week and maintain the same duration and intensity of your workouts.

Finding reasons to exercise

barbell weights isolated

Every little bit of movement counts, so move, if even it's just a little. If you're too busy for a regular workout, look for opportunities to be in motion. Research shows that a significant number of health benefits come from the extra steps you take during each day.

Warming up and cooling down

There are some precautions to consider when starting or re-starting an exercise program, however. As you get older, it takes more time for your body to warm up before exercise. Depending on your level of fitness, a brisk walk or a gentle jog will raise your heart rate and warm up your muscles. Stretch your muscles for 10 to 15 seconds each, easing into each stretch. To cool down, slow your activity over a period of five to 10 minutes and gently stretch the muscles that you have used. This will help reduce muscle soreness after exercising.

Suggested fitness routines from trainer Terry Bain

Walking

Walking is a good exercise for anyone at any age. Make sure you wear proper shoes and clothing. Check with your doctor about how long you can walk each day. Studies show that brisk walking for 45 minutes three times a week offers tremendous brain-boosting benefits and helps prevent mental deterioration.

Here are a few more fitness tips and "get moving" ideas:

  • Adopt a dog and take it for walks every day.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator. And at home, don't yell up the stairs — walk to talk!
  • Get up to talk with co-workers rather than sending emails. Have a meeting with one or two workmates; go outside and make it a walking meeting.
  • Walk briskly whenever you can.
  • Find a sport, game or activity you enjoy.

Yoga

Yoga helps avoid a lot of discomfort often experienced when you are over 50. It also helps lower your blood pressure, and lessens chronic pain, osteoporosis, stress-related symptoms, breathing difficulties and more.

Weight training

Strength training exercises for women over 50 should be about three times a week and for only 30 minutes. Don't go beyond that length of time to ensure that you don't injure yourself. Also, remember to keep the level of the weights to a minimum.

Opposite arm and leg raise

This is one of the best exercises for women over 50.

  • Get on all fours: Knees and palms are on the floor.
  • Look straight down so that your neck does not become strained.
  • Simultaneously raise your right arm and left leg in a straight manner in line with your body.

If this exercise seems too difficult at first, try it using your legs only at first. Once you gain momentum, you can incorporate your arms.

More incentives and ways to stay fit over 50

Fit at 50: Women's health tips to embrace your age
5 Ways to stay young
4 Exercise trends for aging adults

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