How to Tone Up for Women Over 60

Fit Confident senior woman exercising outdoor
A woman is curling dumbbells. (Image: roboriginal/iStock/Getty Images)

For women over 60, toning the body with a well-rounded fitness program will lead to improved health and well-being. When you get toned and strong, you'll find daily activities -- from carrying groceries to playing with the grandkids -- easier and more enjoyable. If you have concerns about your physical health and ability to perform exercises, consult your doctor to identify activities that are best for you.

Move Every Day

The first step towards toning is simply to get moving. Moving your body every day benefits your cardiovascular health while increasing blood circulation that brings nutrients to your skin and tissues. Walking, jogging, bicycling and swimming are some of the activities that get your heart pumping and your muscles moving. You could also work out on a treadmill or an elliptical trainer. The latter is ideal, because it doesn't stress your joints. Aim to work out at least 30 minutes per day at least five days a week. Start with just 10 or 20 minutes if you're new to exercise and increase your workout time gradually. Using a pedometer is another way to monitor your cardio activity. When you achieve 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day, you will be in the target range for adequate daily cardio activity.

Get Strong and Stay Strong

Strength training makes your muscles stronger by working against resistance and it is tops for toning muscles and preventing osteoporosis. Various exercises employ weights, exercise bands or body weight to challenge specific muscles. For example, pushups force you to move your body weight against gravity, while exercises such as wrist curls and arm curls incorporate handheld weights as resistance. Start with light weights -- 1 to 2 pounds -- and increase the amount of weight gradually. Work each of the major muscle groups at least two days a week, making sure you rest a muscle group for day in between workouts. If you're unsure about how to do strength building exercises, take a class or work with a personal trainer.

Flex and Balance

Flexibility and balance exercises will keep your movements fluid and stable and are thus particularly important for your safety as you grow older. Many senior centers offer free or low-cost classes in yoga, tai ch'i and Pilates, which are excellent practices for developing flexibility and balance. Learn how to stretch and balance in class and practice these exercises at home. You may do flexibility and balance exercises every day. Stretch at the end of your cardio or strength workouts to prevent soreness.

Eat Well and Enjoy Life

Fuel your toning and exercise program by eating a diet that balances lean protein with whole grains and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Stay hydrated by drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water daily. You should start to feel more energetic and livelier after a few weeks of doing your new fitness program. You may also notice your mental outlook improving, too. Remember, it's never to late to begin toning your body and mind.

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