As women age their bodies change drastically. While in your 20s you might get away with that extra piece of cake, in your 40s it becomes increasingly hard to keep the pounds off from those delicious sweets. According to WebMD, your metabolism slows by a whopping 5 percent every decade. While 5 percent may not seem like much, its 200 calories per day that you burned in your 20s that you don’t burn in your 40s.
The more cardio you do, the less likely it is you’ll suffer from heart disease. Cardio can be incorporated easily into everyday living. Brisk walks, biking, dancing and even swimming are types of cardio workouts. It’s important not to get bored with your workouts and mix them up. Swimming or water aerobics are both excellent alternatives to walking or jogging for women in midlife. A study in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) concluded that water aerobics is a feasible alternative to other land-based exercises in maintaining and improving cardio fitness.
Cardio exercise is great for your health, especially your heart health, but it doesn’t help you maintain the muscle mass you need to keep your metabolism high. As you age you lose muscle mass, and without strength training your muscles will not tear microscopically, which promotes the rebuilding of muscles. You can join a gym to use equipment for strength training or you can use your own body weight. Lunges and squats will work the major muscles in your lower body, while pushups and triceps dips will work your upper body. Free weights are an excellent addition to strength training at home or in the gym. Biceps curls, shoulder presses and weighted leg raises are perfect additions to any strength-training regimen.
As women go through the stages of menopause, hormonal changes will make it easier for weight gain. Much of the weight gain ends up being in the middle portion of the body. To combat gaining weight in your midsection, it’s important to work your core muscles. Exercise balls will help you shape up your core. Performing situps, side crunches and even pushups with the exercise ball will encourage your core muscles to work and tone. Perform 10 to 15 reps and work your way up to two or three sets of each core exercise.
Ease your way into cardio workouts. Don’t do too much at once. Even light physical activity is better than nothing. Start with 20 to 30 minutes four to five days a week of light exercise, such as walking. As you progress, increase the intensity of your cardio workouts, such as joining a water aerobics class or jogging instead of walking. Increase the amount of cardio you do to 30 to 60 minutes four to five days per week. If you are new to working out, make a goal of strength training two times per week for 20-minute sessions. As you build muscle and stamina increase the frequency to either three 20-minute sessions or two 30-minute sessions. For each exercise you do, focus on the reps rather than the weight lifted. Do three sets with 10 to 15 reps on each exercise.
Danielle Clark has been a writer since 2009, specializing in environmental and health and fitness topics. She has contributed to magazines and several online publications. Clark holds a Bachelor of Science in ecology and environmental science.