When women enter their 40s, the metabolism begins to slow down. Pre-menopause may be causing weight gain in your middles and the tried-and-true workouts of your past may not be working anymore. Other contributors to midlife weight gain can be the use of antidepressants and getting far too many meals on the run.
Even more critical than the increased number on the scale are increased risk of diseases that come with age, including cancers, osteoporosis, diabetes and heart disease. So, what can you do to keep your bod in tip-top shape? Add these four workouts to your routine.
Your friends are doing it but you have yet to try it. You should. This low-impact workout is easy on your joints yet focuses on your core: abs, back, buttocks and hips—just the areas that need the most care after 40. Using your own body strength for resistance, this isn’t an aerobic exercise but one that helps you tone, strengthen, and become more flexible, which doctors recommend for midlife. Studies find that strengthening the core muscles improves mood and anxiety, relieves back pain, helps with balance, and is a brain-booster.
Perhaps you have avoided the weight room at the gym for fear lifting would make you too bulky. It’s time to change that. Dropping estrogen levels weaken bones and even cause bone loss, leading to osteoporosis, but strength training puts stress on bones and increases bone density, according to the Mayo Clinic. Not only will you ward off osteoporosis, muscle burns more calories and fat while increasing your slowing metabolism.
Think yoga is just a trend? It’s been practiced for thousands of years, and with good reason. Yoga has been found to lower blood pressure in people over 40, reducing the risk of heart disease, which is the number one cause of death in women. Yoga can help ward off this disease and improve cardio and circulatory health. It also increases muscle tone, strength and flexibility, targeting the core in many different ways.
High Intensity Interval Training is not hard to find these days. It’s the core behind many different workouts including those you will find at Orangetheory, CrossFit, C45, or many classes simply labelled HIIT. The American Heart Association found older adults who exercised just 30 minutes a day for two years improved their fitness levels and heart health. This interval-style training that increases intensity in short bursts has also been found to ease menopausal symptoms, stress and type 2 diabetes.
Lissa Poirot is an award-winning lifestyle writer who covers health, wellness and travel. Her work has appeared on websites such as WebMD, FamilyVacationCritic and the New York Times, as well as print in magazines including Vegetarian Times and Arthritis Today.