Women’s Fitness Over 50
Back in the 80s, many of us sported neon leg warmers and cut-up sweatshirts a la “Flashdance” as we sweated it out to a disco beat in an aerobics class. While the bodysuits and teased-out ponytails are long gone, our trips to the gym should still be a priority in our weekly routines for as long as possible.
“Staying physically active is important at every age, but especially for women as they age,” says certified fitness instructor, Alicia Jones, who specializes in women’s fitness over fifty. “Women need to weight train with age because it enhances lean muscle growth. And if you don’t make it stronger, then you lose it and lean muscle is what’s in charge of revving up your metabolic rate to burn fat.”
Besides burning fat, keeping your strength up can have long-ranging effects on cognition and overall quality of life. A study out of King’s College London published in Gerontology found that leg strength was “more closely linked to age-related changes in mental function than any other lifestyle factor tested.” https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/nov/09/strong-legs-healthier-brain-in-old-age Brawn for brains – who knew?
Strength is also extremely important when it comes to those aging bones prone to osteoporosis, caused by a loss of estrogen which declines in production around 40 years of age. Weight-bearing exercises will help increase bone density as well as maintain and enhance lean muscle mass. Declining estrogen levels usher in a number of other health issues as well, according to Jones.
“You no longer have the protective heart health benefits that estrogen had provided,” she explains. “By exercising, you increase your heart health and you can stave off heart conditions. It’s more common to get insulin resistance or type two diabetes with age and have insulin dysfunction. But if you exercise, you can start to balance your blood sugar, balance your hormones better and protect your heart and bones.”
Creating a full-body exercise routine is easier than you might think, as it only takes six exercises to enhance lean muscle from head to toe. Jones suggests exercise for the legs, back, core, chest, and finally for the triceps and biceps.
“Start with a squat exercise for your legs,” she explains. “It’s also a compound exercise movement, which means that while you’re squatting, you’re not only working your legs but working your core, your back, and your full body at the same time.”
Jones recommends then moving onto a row exercise for the back, where you squeeze your shoulder blades together as you bow down and slide your elbows along your side and squeeze your shoulder blades together as you hold two dumbbells.
She says, “It works a lot of the postural muscles that we forget to use because we’re so used to typing or driving or forward motions, which leaves us really tight in front of our body, but the back of our body doesn’t get used a lot. Doing this row exercise uses a huge amount of muscle mass that is going to provide strength and rack up that metabolic rate while at the same time, teaching your body to pull your shoulders back to have good posture, which is going to reduce the risks of shoulder injuries along with back issues and back pain.”
Finish up the routine with one chest exercise like the chest press, one tricep exercise like kickbacks, and finally, a bicep exercise like bicep curls. One thing to keep in mind is that before you start a new fitness routine, be sure to check with your doctor first to ensure you’re not exasperating any health issues you may have.
One last tip from Jones is to take it slow. The days of bouncing back after a hard workout are long gone along with those neon legwarmers so be sure to not push yourself as you did back in the day, and give yourself some much-needed downtime in-between workouts to allow the body a chance to repair itself properly. While we might still love the soundtrack from Flashdance, there’s no need to be a “maniac” when it comes to your fitness routine.
Alicia Jones lost weight and found a healthy lifestyle without fad diets and without punishing physical routines. For 16 years she’s helped transform the health and the lives of women over 50 through her fitness and weight loss strategies. Alicia has appeared on various health and wellness television programs and produced and hosted Health Matters and The View: Health and Wellness On Rogers TV. She has a B.A in Kinesiology and adds many certifications to her list of qualifications, including National Coach of Canada (NCCP), Advanced Sport Nutrition, Certified Group Fitness Instructor, Personal Training Specialist: Canfit-pro and many others. Discover more at aliciajoneshealthyliving.com
Written by Larissa Banting