Exercising in your 40s and 50s
Jun 08, 2022 - Meghan Pickrell
Exercise combats the effects of aging. If you aren’t currently exercising, now is a great time to begin. You’re never too old, too unfit, or…..(insert whatever other excuse that might be roaming through your brain right now). No matter where you are in life, or what issues you’re negotiating with your body and health, there’s a way to begin. I’m here to encourage and guide you.
If you’re already in a consistent exercise routine that you love, you’ve struck gold. Stay with it. Be open to some of the suggestions I make below. They my even become part of your weekly movement routine . Enhancing and maintaining your movement routine is always my number priority.
Today I want to focus an ideal exercise program for my peers, women in their 40s and 50s: the perimenopausal women. Hello ladies!
When I was researching this article I googled “perimenopausal women and exercise.” Not much came up. There’s a lot of information on elderly women and exercise, as well as exercise for women in general. But not a lot for my age group.
Did you know that exercise can ward off hot flashes?
As you enter your 40s you may feel like you want to change your exercise routine. Even though high impact exercise is great for bone health and osteoporosis prevention, it may feel a bit hard on your body (please continue running if it feels good). If you’re noticing prolonged aches and your body is telling you to run less, walking can do the job. You will then want to offset it with strength training and stretching. The three types of fitness that can benefit women in their 40s and 50s are: strength training, cardio and mobility training/ or stretching.
Because we start losing muscle mass by 40 and gaining body fat, strength training is imperative. In the pilates studio the routine is comprised of resistance exercises. When at home on the mat, you’re performing body weight exercises. Both are excellent low impact, extremely efficient ways for strengthening. Because maintaining bone density is so important as we age, we want to make sure that we are on our feet as much as possible, standing and moving. Weight bearing (standing) exercises are great to put all of that detailed pilates training to practical use. Go ahead and squat, lunge, deadlift….add some dumbbells. Being a former dancer, standing split workouts are some of my favourite. Always challenge your balance. Standing work is more imperative now. I recommend 2- 3 strength training sessions per week.
If pilates is your preferred form of strength training (I totally understand!!!) then I want you on your feet for your cardio sessions. I prefer you to be off of the bike and out of the pool. Remember some impact is beneficial. Walk, jog, play tennis. Actively being on your feet should be part of your exercise routine. If you’re mainly weight lifting and on your feet for your entire strength workout, you can swim or bike for your cardio to offset the standing work. Cardiovascular exercise has so many health benefits and it doesn’t necessarily have to be intense. Find something you like doing; something you look forward to. Walking with a podcast is wonderful! I recommend walking 3-4x week for 30 minutes.
If you’re already in the practice of pilates, you have this one in the bag. If you’re in the gym lifting weights, make sure you are spending time stretching and engaged in mobility work. Always try to offset your strength training with some mobility training. Mobility exercises are active stretches (vs passive) which involve muscle engagement and test your range of motion. In mobility training you are supporting your flexibility, asking the body to actively hold the positions it can be stretched into. Mobility and flexibility are the things we slowly lose as we get older. Good news is that effective stretching can be done in 10 minutes! Here’s a stretch routine from the 10 for 10 Challenge.
Mind & Motion offers both strength and mobility training. If you’re in Los Angeles you could get your cardio by coming to a pilates jump class. But I also recommend doing repetitive cardio movement like walking, running, biking or swimming. Look at your program comprehensively. If you’re mainly lying down for pilates exercises in the studio, add some standing mat work. Be on your feet for your cardio. If you’re in the gym lifting weights for your strength training, bike, swim or walk for your cardio. No matter what you do for strength training make sure you’re adding mobility training and stretching to your routine. Stretching 10 minutes a day can have a big impact. Then smile, you’re no longer in your 20s – enjoy! 😊