Women over 40 are busy. You have families, friends, work commitments and not much time for yourself. Often you give up time spent taking care of your own health to care for those around you. You give up your exercise program and find you don't have the energy you once had. Perhaps you start to gain some weight or feel your body starting to sag. The good news is, it's not too late to regain your health, energy and body with exercise.
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The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise per week women of all ages. Women at age 40 who are new to exercise should start out slowly, aiming for 10- to 15-minute bouts of exercise at a time. As you get more comfortable, gradually increase the time until you can do 30 continuous minutes of cardiovascular exercise five days per week. Aim to keep your heart rate somewhere between 108 and 153 beats per minute to ensure you are working at an intensity that will maximize your health benefits.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, muscular strength peaks in women between ages 20 and 30 and then remains nearly unchanged for another 20 years beyond that. The goal of a 40-year old woman should be to maintain the muscle mass that she has so it doesn't decline as she ages. Resistance training for every major muscle group should be done twice per week with at least 48 hours of rest and recovery time between workouts. Two to four sets of 10 to 15 repetitions is adequate for maintaining muscle mass.
Maintaining flexible muscles is another important component of your workout at age 40. Before stretching, muscles should be warmed up with light cardiovascular exercise, such as walking or cycling. Hold your body still through each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat each movement two to three times. Flexibility training can be done daily but should be done twice a week at a minimum.
One concern many women have as they age is the loss of bone density. While bone loss typically occurs more predominantly after age 50, it is wise to start incorporating exercises that will promote bone health earlier on. Weight-bearing cardiovascular exercises, such as walking or jogging are preferred over non-weight-bearing activities like swimming or biking. Moderate or high intensity activities elicit the most bone-building benefits and should be added as tolerated to your workout program. As with all workout programs, consult with your physician before starting.
- American College of Sports Medicine: ACSM Issues New Recommendations on Quantity and Quality of Exercise
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- American College of Sports Medicine: Strength Training for Bone, Muscle, and Hormones
- American College of Sports Medicine: Exercise, Menopause and Osteoporosis