Why Exercise is Crucial For Women Over 40

by Lisa Ledoux

Women heading into their 40s and beyond are sometimes hesitant to start a workout routine, thinking it’s too late to make a difference.

smiling mature brown skinned woman, wearing a dark big shirt

But fitness has benefits at any age, whether you’re in your 50s, 60s, 70s, or 80s- and it’s never too late to start reaping the rewards!

Regular exercise can:

  • help improve your cardiovascular health,
  • increase your muscle strength and flexibility,
  • boost your energy levels,
  • control weight
  • strengthen your immune system
  • prevent injury and reduce pain through a variety of different exercises
  • improve brain health
  • reduce the risk of developing chronic conditions like obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

Staying fit relieves stress, improves your mental health, improves your sleep, is fun, and boosts your self-confidence.

So if you’re looking for a way to feel great and encompass good health, there’s no time like the present to start adding some fitness into your life!

Why It’s Crucial for Women Over 40 to Exercise

Aging women are at a higher risk for developing a number of diseases and ailments, especially if they are living a sedentary, nutritionally deficient lifestyle.


  • osteoporosis, osteoarthritis,
  • muscle deterioration, weight gain,
  • diabetes, hypertension,
  • heart disease, depression, anxiety,
  • poor sleep, and dementia.

to name a few.

Can These Conditions Be Modified With Exercise?

Regular exercise can help to prevent or slow the progression of osteoporosis by maintaining bone density and strength.

It can also help to reduce the risk of developing osteoarthritis by keeping joints healthy and preventing the loss of cartilage.

Middle-aged women are especially susceptible to muscle deterioration as they age. Exercise can help to offset this decline by:

  • increasing muscle mass,
  • improving bone health,
  • improving blood circulation,
  • and increasing levels of testosterone (a hormone that plays a role in muscle development)

While no one can completely prevent or reverse the effects of the aging process, exercise is an effective way to slow down the muscle decline that often occurs with age.

Exercise has been shown to be beneficial for women with diabetes.

Regular physical activity helps to control blood sugar levels, and it also helps to improve insulin sensitivity.

While the exact mechanism by which exercise helps with Type 2 diabetes is not fully understood, it is clear that regular physical activity plays an important role in managing the condition.

Exercise promotes weight loss, which is an important goal for women with diabetes, and those struggling with obesity.

It also promotes good heart health and helps to reduce the risk of complications such as heart disease and stroke.

Exercise Helps The Body. What About the Mind?

woman walking on a beach during twilight, back view

Exercise has been shown to be an effective way of managing depression and anxiety.

It releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural ‘feel-good’ chemicals, and reduces stress levels by lowering the production of the stress hormone cortisol.

These ‘feel-good’ chemicals have a calming effect that can help you fall asleep more quickly and sleep more deeply.

This improves sleep quality, which is often disturbed in people with depression and anxiety.

Finally, exercise provides an opportunity for social interaction and can help to boost self-esteem.

For all these reasons, it’s clear that exercise improves the management of mild mental health ailments.

Regular exercise may not only help to prevent dementia, but it may also improve cognitive function in women who are already showing signs of cognitive decline.

Given the growing body of evidence linking exercise to brain health, it’s essential for women of all ages to make physical activity a part of their daily lives.

What Types of Exercises Should Women Over 40 Be Doing?

Consult with a physician before starting any new exercise routine, especially if you have any health concerns, and when beginning any exercise program, start slowly and gradually increase the intensity.

There are 4 types of exercises women over 40 should incorporate as part of their exercise regimes:

  1. Balance training,
  2. Strength training,
  3. Low-impact cardiovascular workouts,
  4. HIIT workouts (Note* HIIT workouts can also be low impact).

1.) Balance Training

There are many different types of balance exercises, but all share a common goal: to improve your ability to maintain control of your body while standing or moving.

You can check out balance exercises on YouTube and Google or use equipment such as stability discs, exercise balls, and Yoga to increase stability and equilibrium.

Practice a few balance exercises each day. Remember to start slowly and increase the difficulty of the exercises as you get stronger.

2.) Strength Training or Resistance Training

Building muscle is a great way to improve your health, but it’s important to do it correctly. Women especially need to be careful when strength training, as they are more susceptible to injury.

Here are some tips on how to train more safely:

  • Start slowly and gradually increase the amount of weight you lift.
  • Use proper form, and don’t sacrifice form for more weight.
  • Focus on quality over quantity. It’s better to do a few reps with good form than many reps with bad form.
  • Breathe properly while lifting. Exhale on the effort (when you’re lifting the weight) and inhale on the release (when you’re lowering the weight).
  • Don’t hold your breath while lifting, as this can increase your blood pressure and lead to dizziness.
  • If you’re new to strength training, it’s a good idea to have a certified trainer help you with your form.
  • Train two to three times per week for best results.
  • Alternate days of strength training with days of low-impact cardio or HIIT workouts, balance training, and rest. Balance training can easily be practiced daily.

3.) Low Impact Cardio Workouts

outdoor pool outside of a hotel with white lounge chairs on the poolside

As we get older our bodies change and certain types of exercise become more difficult.

That’s why it’s important to focus on low-impact activities which are easier on the musculoskeletal system, especially if you are overweight, obese, or just beginning your exercise journey.

Low-impact exercises such as aerobics, swimming, cycling, walking, elliptical, yoga, pilates, and rowing are all excellent choices.

Aim for four to six activities per week.

4.) HIIT Workouts (HIIT workouts have low-impact options)

HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts are a great way to get your heart rate up and burn calories.

HIIT workouts are short bursts of intensive activity with shorter periods of rest in between. Workouts can include cycling, sprinting, jumping rope, or bodyweight exercises.

These can be done a few times per week, but be sure to listen to your body and take rest days when needed.

HIIT workouts can include intensive low-impact options (chair workouts, no jumping workouts), and if you’re wondering where to find some fun, low-impact HIIT workouts, just head on over to YouTube.

How To Keep Your Exercise Regime Fun

Dull workouts are not only uninspiring, but they can also lead to you skipping them altogether.

One of the best ways to keep your exercise regime fun is to mix things up- you’ll not only stay motivated, but you’ll also see better results!

Try adding some new exercises or changing up the order of your routine:

happy, red haired overweight woman in a pink shirt smiling and wearing headphones and listening to music on her phone
  • Dance (learn Napolean Dynamite’s moves)
  • Learn to play the drums (or any instrument)
  • Try some “Walking Workouts” on YouTube
  • Zumba
  • Playing outside with the kids
  • Clean the house (and “turn UP the radio!”)
  • Interactive video games (Dance, Tennis, Boxing)
  • Go for a hike or a mountain climb
  • Go water sliding- have fun climbing those stairs!

Music can also be a great way to make exercise more fun. Create a fun workout playlist that will get you pumped up and help you keep moving.

And having someone else to work out with can increase motivation and make the whole experience more fun and enjoyable.

Why It’s Hard For Older Women to Lose Weight

As we approach middle age, our bodies change in a number of ways. We may lose muscle mass and bone density, and our metabolism slows down.

These changes can make it harder to lose weight, even if we’re eating the same amount of food and exercising regularly.

Older women also tend to have less lean muscle mass than younger women, which means they burn fewer calories at rest.

And because our bodies become less efficient at using energy, we may need to cut back on our indulgences and portion sizes to see results.

The Role of Menopause

Many women gain weight during menopause when hormone levels fluctuate and change. There are a few factors that can contribute to weight gain during menopause.

First, declining estrogen levels can cause women to store more fat in their bodies. Additionally, changes in metabolism and muscle mass can also lead to weight gain. Finally, some women may simply be less active during this time in their lives.

While there are many factors that can contribute to weight gain during menopause, there are also ways to combat it.

By making small changes to our overall lifestyle and exercise routines, we can still reach our weight loss goals.

3 Common Misconceptions About Weight Loss

There are a number of misconceptions about weight loss that can prevent women from achieving their goals.

1.) If a person undereats, they will lose weight faster.

In fact, crash dieting can actually lead to weight gain in the long run. If we deprive our bodies of the calories it needs, they will hold on to what it has and store those calories as fat.

older, fit, blonde woman boxing in a gym

2.) Lifting weights will make you look big and bulky like a heavyweight boxing champ.

On the contrary.

Unless you’re training full-time like a champ, that’s never going to happen.

Consistent weight training promotes lean muscle and toned, trimmed, sculpted bodies.

3.) Finally, there’s a belief that you should follow a strict or specific diet plan to lose weight.

While there are diets that may help you to lose weight quickly, you can still absolutely achieve your goals if you do not follow a strict plan.

The most important thing is to make sure that you’re eating nourishing food and getting enough exercise.


Exercise is important for women of all ages. It helps to keep our bodies healthy and our minds sharp.

As we age, we need to make sure that we are getting enough exercise to stay in shape. The benefits of working out, include:

a group of older woman holding a bar and weights with their trainer standing behind them
  • Reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes
  • Reduced stress levels
  • Improved sleep
  • Increased energy levels
  • Toned muscles
  • Strong bones

If you’re not sure where to begin, talk to your doctor or a personal trainer.

They can help you to create a workout plan that is tailored to your specific needs and goals.

Remember, it’s never too late to start working out – so don’t wait any longer.

With a little effort, anyone can sculpt their body- no matter their age!

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