As women age, staying in shape becomes not just a matter of looking good, but feeling good and maintaining health. After the age of 50, many women notice changes in their body and lifestyle, but this shouldn’t be a barrier to wellness. In fact, it's an opportunity to embrace a healthier, more fulfilling lifestyle. Here's how:
1. Embrace Strength Training for Women over 50
Strength training is crucial for women over 50. It helps combat loss of muscle mass and bone density, common in post-menopausal women. Incorporate light weights or resistance bands in your routine twice a week. Exercises like squats, lunges, and arm curls are great starting points. A study in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research (2017) found that high-intensity resistance and impact training improved bone density and structure in postmenopausal women with low bone mass.
2. Prioritize Heart Health
Cardiovascular exercise is vital for heart health and maintaining stamina. Activities like brisk walking, swimming, or cycling for at least 150 minutes a week can make a significant difference. The American Heart Association suggests dividing this into 30-minute sessions, 5 days a week for optimal benefits.
3. Stay Flexible and Balanced
Yoga and Pilates are excellent for maintaining flexibility, balance, and core strength, reducing the risk of falls and injuries. A study published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience (2015) showed that yoga significantly improved balance and mobility in older adults. Since my mother, who was working out on a treadmill daily at 80-years-old, still broke a hip twice in one year - I'm going to take this seriously.
4. Mind Your Diet
A balanced diet rich in calcium, vitamin D, fiber, lean protein, and healthy fats is essential. As metabolism slows down with age, watching portion sizes and reducing calorie intake slightly can help manage weight. Consult a nutritionist for personalized advice.
5. Stay Hydrated
With age, you might not feel thirsty as often. However, staying hydrated is crucial for digestion, skin health, and overall energy levels. The mainstream thought is to aim for 8 glasses of water a day. However, your food, especially fruits and vegetables, also contribute to your hydration so that amount of water might not be necessary. If your urine is normal, then you're likely getting enough water.
6. Prioritize Sleep
Good sleep is foundational to overall health. Aim for 8 hours of quality sleep per night. If you’re experiencing sleep disturbances, consider a bedtime routine that promotes relaxation, such as reading or meditation. No glowing devices before (or during) sleep, as those can alter your circadian rhythms and disrupt sleep. If you need noise - you can put your phone or iPad screen-side down so the glow doesn't get to your retinas.
7. Manage Stress
Chronic stress can take a toll on your body. Techniques like mindfulness, meditation, and deep breathing can help manage stress. Engaging in hobbies and social activities can also boost mental health. This one is very important, as stress can do a lot of harm to you - both mentally and physically.
8. Regular Health Check-Ups
Regular check-ups become even more critical. Ensure you keep up with screenings like mammograms, bone density tests, and routine blood work. I need to follow my own advice on this one.
9. Listen to Your Body
Pay attention to what your body tells you. If something feels off or painful, don’t push through the pain. Seek medical advice and adjust your workout accordingly. Again, I don't always follow my advice here.
10. Find a Community
Joining a group or class can provide motivation and social interaction. Whether it’s a walking group, a yoga class, or an online fitness community, being part of a group can keep you accountable and supported.
Staying in shape after 50 is about more than just physical health; it's about embracing a holistic approach to wellness. By incorporating these tips into your life, you can maintain vitality, strength, and joy at any age. Remember, every small step counts towards a healthier, happier you.
Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. (2017). “High-Intensity Resistance and Impact Training Improves Bone Mineral Density and Physical Function in Postmenopausal Women with Osteopenia and Osteoporosis.”
American Heart Association. (2022). “Physical Activity Recommendations for Adults.”
Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. (2015). “Yoga Enhances Balance and Mobility in Aging Adults.”