I was shown an omen and I took notice.
I must share it with all midlife women.
Many of my friends and I have been consistent with exercise for all of our adult lives. Over the years we dabbled in a variety exercise modalities, and what was most effective in our childbearing years was consistency.
It did not matter much what we exercise we chose to do. As long as we were consistent, we maintained a lean healthy (or so we thought) body.
At some point in my 40’s, I stopped responding to random exercise routines, especially the long hours of cardio. Ironically two of my friends who relied on distance running exclusively for exercise, fractured bones while out running on the same day.
I took this as an omen.
How was it that these women who appeared so healthy, easily fractured bones? Was I next? I did not want to risk injury for leanness, and besides the running and yoga combo were no longer giving me results. I was stressed out from long runs and hour-long yoga sessions, tired, and gaining weight.
This lead me to do some research. The more I read, the more interested I became. I pursued certifications in training with concentrations on midlife fitness for women, as well as hormonal nutrition.
If you are in your 40’s your old exercise routines from your 20’s and 30’s are not the best options for your almost midlife body.
When we knock on the door of midlife, priorities such as maintaining bone density, endurance, balance and a healthy posture become necessary to prevent injury and help us feel good every day. Of course, every woman wants to maintain leanness or get leaner.
It is common for a woman around age 40ish to figure out that the methods that worked in early adulthood are no longer working. As a result, she may try to run (or spin) longer and harder all the while increasing her risk for things like fractures and depression.
The exercise options listed below, will minimize your risk of injury, and leave you feeling good in your skin. They will also help your metabolism to burn more calories at rest by reversing the natural muscle loss associated with normal aging after the age of 30. (Sarcopenia)
Include these exercises in your regular rotation:
1. Posture improving exercises
These include core strengthening and shoulder stabilizing. Core stabilizing exercises such as hardstyle planks, bird-dogs, and dead-bugs, body glides and anti-rotation exercises are far more beneficial for posture than sit-ups or crunches. In addition, a strong core stabilizes the spine helping to avoid back issues which can become common with a weakened core.
Its less about 6-pack abs and more about healthy posture which has an added benefit of a longer leaner appearance. Shoulder stabilizing exercises help to keep shoulders from rounding forward, a common sight in older women that creep us gradually over the years. The goal here is to keep the neuromuscular connection in the postural stabilizing muscles in good working order.
These are not the vanity shoulder exercises, but keeping these muscles healthy will aid in making your shoulders look more athletic simply from good posture. See this video for more information. All varieties of rows including the use of bands, dumbbells, barbells, a cable machine, and TRX also help to improve posture.
2. Balance challenge exercises.
If you don’t use it you lose it. A good place to get in some balance work is during warm up. We use single sided exercises as part of our warm up to challenge balance and increase blood flow to the joints and muscles so that we can train effectively.
A stability ball is also a great way to add a balance challenge to some resistance training exercises. Some examples include stability ball alternate side chest flies, stability ball pistol rollouts, stability ball walk out planks and any shoulder work performed seated on a stability ball. Single sided deadlifts are also a great way to challenge balance.
3.Resistance Training with weights
If you want to experience the happy hormone rush form an effective training session, pick up some weights. There is nothing like the feeling after a weight training session to life your mood.
We can thank endorphins for that! In fact, regular release of endorphins has been shown to help keep depressive thoughts at bay. Thirty minutes of resistance training a few days a week can do wonders for a positive attitude.
Weight training is also the single best way to rev up your metabolism. Calorie burn after a weight training session can last for several hours after the workout ends. Cardio sessions, by the way, do not. That is not to say that cardio is useless.
4. Cardio for endurance.
Cardio has its benefits too. Endurance, stamina, heart health and stress reduction are the most notable benefits.
It is important to stress that while 30-60 minute walking sessions are great for stress relief, we cannot rely on walking alone to maintain our quality of life in our 40’s and beyond.
Refer back to the exercises above to maintain balance, posture, muscle mass for a healthy metabolism, and bone density.
This may look overwhelming but resistance, balance and posture training need not take more than 30-40 minutes 2-3 times per week. Commit to a daily walk for endurance, heart health and stress reduction and your midlife quality will be enhanced.