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As women age, exercising regularly is one of the best things they can do to maintain their health. It is very important for women over 50 to make regular exercise a priority to maintain overall health and increase longevity. These exercises, recommended by fitness experts, doctors and physiotherapists, will help women over 50 stay healthy and mobile for as long as possible.
Exercise has benefits for everyone, but for women over 50, exercise has some unique benefits such as:
Maintain bone density: Women can lose up to 20% of their bone density during and after menopause. That can lead to brittle bones, mobility problems, and a tendency to suffer fractures in the future. Starting to exercise before or around age 50 can help women maintain bone strength as they age.
Improve heart health: Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women. More than 44% of women suffer from some type of heart disease. Exercising regularly can help women reduce their risk of developing heart disease as they age.
Boost metabolism: Women over 50 often struggle with a slow metabolism. The hormonal changes that occur during menopause can significantly slow down metabolism, causing weight gain and other health problems. Regular exercise can reactivate your metabolism and make it easier to maintain a healthy weight.
Fight depression and anxiety: Hormonal changes due to menopause can increase the risk of developing depression and anxiety. Regular exercise promotes the release of endorphins, which can reduce the risk of women over 50 developing depression and anxiety.
For women over 50, low-impact cardiovascular exercises that are easy on the joints but provide excellent exercise can improve heart health and reduce the risk of serious cardiovascular disease. Some of the best heart-healthy exercises for women over 50 include walking, swimming, cycling, dancing, and strength training.
Women who are not used to regular exercise should always start slowly and increase the intensity of a cardiovascular workout. HIIT training is a great way for women over 50 to gradually improve their heart health.
Strength training is one of the most recommended types of exercise for women over 50. Women over 50 should prioritize keeping their bones and muscles strong for good health, and strength training is the best way to do that. Physical therapists, doctors, and aging experts recommend strength training for women over 50. Some of the best strength training exercises for women over 50 are:
- Chair Dives
- Dumbbell row
- Bicep curls
- Dead weight
- arm circles
- Glute bridges
- Shoulder press
- wall pushups
- triceps press
- Calf stretches
Maintaining proper form is essential to getting the most benefits from strength training. Women should train several times with a physical therapist or fitness trainer to ensure they know the proper form for these strength training exercises.
Flexibility and balance exercises are also important for women over 50. Engaging in regular exercise that increases flexibility now will help women stay mobile and able to live independently in the future. Regular exercises that can help women increase their flexibility are:
- tai chai
When women begin flexibility exercises, it is a good idea to start with gentle stretches and just five or ten minutes of practice. Increase to longer sessions over time.
Functional fitness activities, sometimes called occupational therapy, are exercises that mimic everyday movements and work the muscles that women need to use every day to live and move independently. Squats, lunges, and planks are great exercises that women can do daily.
Women who are not used to exercising regularly should always consult their healthcare provider before trying a new exercise or starting a new regular exercise regimen, especially if they have pre-existing medical conditions.
Women over 50 should focus on creating a well-rounded workout regimen that includes cardiovascular exercise, as well as stretching, flexibility, and strength training exercises.
One of the hardest parts of starting a regular exercise routine is not giving up after a few days. Women who want to commit to exercising regularly can do things like keep an activity journal, sign up for an exercise class, or find a workout buddy to help them stay motivated to keep exercising. Keeping a fitness journal that awards rewards for reaching exercise or weight goals is a great way to stay motivated.
The most common reason women over 50 say they don’t exercise regularly is because they don’t have time. Work and family responsibilities often make it difficult for women to make time to exercise regularly. Physical limitations, medical conditions, and shyness can also prevent women from exercising even when they know they should.
But it’s still possible for women to make exercise a priority. If time is an issue, women can break up workouts into shorter periods of activity. Walking for ten or twenty minutes during lunch or using a pedal machine at your desk can make it easier for women to get daily cardiovascular exercise. Joining a women’s-only gym or finding a group of women to exercise with can eliminate shyness. Or, working with a trainer individually can also make exercise easier for women.
It is very important for women over 50 to warm up properly before starting a workout and then cool down and stretch. Failure to warm up or cool down can lead to muscle tears, strains, and other injuries.
Healthy aging requires more than exercise. To stay healthy during the aging process, women should make sure they eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep, manage stress, and exercise regularly. Taking a holistic approach to health that incorporates all aspects of life will help women stay healthy as they age.
Exercise may not be fun all the time, but it’s the best thing women over 50 can do to maintain their health. Getting into the habit of exercising regularly now can help women live better, stay healthy, and enjoy independent living as they age.
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*All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace medical advice. Readers should always consult their healthcare providers before beginning any new exercise program.