As we age, I can tell you, what used to work in the gym years ago may not work today. Changes in our metabolism, pregnancies and stress, all lead to our bodies not necessarily responding to the exercises that may have worked wonders in the past. As women, our bodies go through so many changes during our various seasons of life, but my advice is to never stop moving!
1. Focus on Benefits of Maintaining Muscle Mass
As our bodies age, we go through some inevitable changes that proper exercise can help combat. After the age of 30, most people will lose 3-5% of muscle mass each decade; this number is, however, fortunately something we can change! Research has shown that this percentage is much lower for those who regularly do resistance training exercises in order to build and maintain muscle mass. In addition to this, evidence suggests that increased muscle loss leads to increased chances of experiencing bone fractures in the case of a fall. Another added benefit to working to increase and maintain muscle mass is a boost in metabolism! For the majority of women, we see a decline in metabolic rate after the age of 30. Although both hormonal and genetic factors play a role in this, we can take control of having the best metabolism possible by working to maintain as much muscle mass as we can! It’s hard work, but the benefits majorly outweigh the costs!
2. Incorporate Functional Training
Other things which unfortunately are quick to leave us as our bodies age are functional skills, such as balance and flexibility. Think about daily tasks, such as bending over to pick up a child or grandchild, bending down to tie your shoes, etc. How about standing on one leg at a time to put on a pair of pants or high heels? I encourage you to explore adding exercises such as yoga, pilates, or barre class to your routine to incorporate these ever-important skills! Even if you do not enjoy these types of exercises, remember that it is crucial to perform a good stretch routine after any workout! We can’t forget that maintaining the ability to perform daily functional tasks as we age leads to an increased ability to live independently for a longer portion of our lives.
3. An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure
As a young woman, my gym goals were primarily aesthetic. However, as I have gotten older, I sometimes wish I could go back and tell my younger self to focus on workouts that would serve as preventative measures for some of the challenges that occur with progressing age. Be conscious of working out at the appropriate level of resistance and intensity for your age and fitness level and don’t worry about what the person next to you thinks of your weight selection. Only you know what’s right for your body! If you exercise in a way that prevents injury, you will never have to worry about finding a cure for an injured joint or muscle.
As women, we take on so many responsibilities in life, not the least of which is taking care of ourselves! Continuing to keep moving has countless benefits for our health as we age. Don’t have a current workout routine? Don’t worry, it’s never too late to start to get moving! Grab a friend, go on a walk, and plan out a preventative exercise routine that fits in with your life. Your body will thank you for it!