Women Over 40: How to Begin a New Exercise Regimen Safely

After a certain age, you start to realize that you can’t do all the stuff you used to be able to do. This realization usually comes after you’ve tried to do something new, such as hike 4 miles through the forest. While it’s completely normal to experience some decrease in strength, stamina, and resiliency after the age of 40, leading a predominantly sedentary lifestyle can make things worse.

It’s very common for older people to sustain an injury while participating in a new activity or starting a new exercise regimen when they’ve spent the last decade doing mostly nothing. Most injuries are soft-tissue injuries, such as sprains and torn ligaments. However, some injuries can be quite serious, especially if a new exercise regimen brings to light an underlying illness, like heart disease.

Women Over 40 - How To Exercise

If you’re over 40 and contemplating a new physically-active lifestyle, congratulations! Being active can make you feel younger, give you more energy, and do away with ordinary aches and pains. Plus, once you get moving, you will be able to stay active much later in life.

However, you just can’t jump into a new exercise regimen head first. You have to take things slow to avoid injury. This article will help you do just that.

When to See Your Doctor First

If you’re in good health and can climb a flight of stairs easily or go for a nice, long walk without getting too tired, you probably don’t need to see a doctor before starting light to a moderate intensity workout program.

However, certain conditions make medical consent advisable. You should always talk to your doctor first if you’ve been diagnosed with any of the following medical conditions:

  • Heart disease
  • Asthma
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Arthritis

You should also talk to your doctor if you’re being treated for any chronic or terminal illness that may interfere with your ability to exercise, such as cancer.

Exercise for women over 40

Certain diagnosis are clear indicators that you need to consult your doctor, but some indicators aren’t so obvious. For example, swollen ankles at the end of the day may point to an unknown cardiovascular issue.

For this reason, you should talk to your doctor if you feel any of the following while engaging in physical activity: dizziness, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, lower leg pain, and chest pain. You should also talk to your doctor if you have an unexplained and nagging pain or health problems.

How to Take Your First Steps

If your daily routine involves sitting in an office chair for 8 hours only to come home and sit in a recliner for the rest of the evening, you can’t expect to be able to keep up throughout an entire spin class or go for a job. You have to start slowly and work your way up to those things.

One of the best ways you can get moving is to start walking. It’s really that simple. The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity on most days of the week.

women jogging

When it comes to walking, that translates into a pretty brisk stride, enough to make it difficult for you to hold a conversation. Although following these recommendations is your ultimate goal, you don’t have to start there. Start walking for 5 to 10 minutes per day at the pace you can handle and build from there.

To get your body ready for even more physical activity, you might want to consider doing stretching exercises every hour or two throughout the day. Also, make it a point to get up from your desk and take a stroll around your office every now and then. Park farther from your building.

Do everything you can think of to increase your physical activity throughout the day. Take an all-day approach to physical activity by squeezing in short bursts of activity throughout the entire day.

For Those Who Are Significantly Overweight

Starting an exercise routine when you’re overweight is especially difficult because physical activity hurts when you’re heavier. There’s just more pressure on your muscles, bones, and joints.

It’s more difficult to meet your exercise goals when you’re overweight because your body cries mercy way too soon. Unfortunately, many people let the pain win and give up on their exercise dreams much too quickly.

The key to pushing through the challenge is not to push through the pain. It involves more of a mental mindset. First, you have to realize that you’re not going to be able to complete a full routine or do everything you want to do in the beginning.

Imagine taking an average-sized person and strapping 50 or 100 pounds of weights on them. How well do you think they would move? Not very well. Your goal should be to start small and move a little more each day.

How to Add Strength Training to Your Routine

Once you get moving, you will want to put some strength training into your exercise regimen. There are lots of health benefits that go along with strength training, including increased bone strength and improved weight-loss maintenance. Strength training burns loads of calories as well, which means you’ll be able to eat more and still maintain a healthy weight.

If you aren’t currently strength training, you shouldn’t go to the gym and start lifting weights today. You may hurt yourself. Instead, try a few at-home exercises, such as squats, push-ups, bicep curls, etc. The internet has countless videos that will show you several strength training exercises you can do at home without equipment.

Woman lifting weight

Forty is a turning point in life for women: Your body begins to undergo the changes of perimenopause, including risk of muscle fiber shrinkage, higher blood pressure, loss of bone density and unwanted weight gain. These changes are intensified by inactivity. Adding weight training into your health routine will help reduce body fat, tone muscles and strengthen bones while also combating low energy, mood swings and insomnia. – Live Strong

After you’ve mastered your at-home routine, start going to a gym. If you’ve never lifted weights before, start out with light weights. It’s also a good idea to hire a trainer for a session or two just to make sure you’re using the right technique.

Making the Switch from Light/Moderate to Intense

So far, all of these exercises have fallen into the light to moderate category. The good news is that you don’t have to engage in intense activity to reap the benefits of exercise. You can stay right where you are as long as you include a variety of activities and change things up every now and then.

However, if you want to engage in more intense activities, such as running a marathon, you have to take the necessary steps to get there. You can’t go from walking a mile a day to running a full marathon this weekend.

Everyone, even star athletes, have to train to build up their stamina and avoid injury. If you want to try a new activity, start out with small bursts of activity and build on it. For example, if you want to swim across the entire width of a lake, start out by going out a quarter of the way and coming back. Then, build your way up to halfway and so on.

Women exercising

Starting exercising after the age of 40 isn’t all that difficult. You just have to start slowly and have realistic expectations. You may only be able to exercise for 10 minutes before giving up in the beginning, and that’s OK. Eventually, you will be able to do more than you ever imagined possible.