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It’s an unfortunate fact that, as we get older, our bodies may experience adverse effects and conditions worsened by the poor habits of a lifetime. If your health wasn’t your priority when you were in your 20s and 30s, it should be once you hit your 40s.
Exercise that will help you lose weight should also provide your body with needed strengthening and flexibly to keep you strong as you age.
The Health Benefits of Exercise
With age, your metabolism begins to slow down, as do your estrogen levels. Insulin shoots up and your thyroid levels go down. You lose muscle tone more easily than when you were younger, you are more affected by stress and it becomes harder to lose weight.
Exercise is a critical part of weight loss and overall health.
Osteoporosis, high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiac health, arthritis, and weakened core strength are all aging health conditions that can be greatly improved or even averted by a healthy diet and the right fitness program. Not that these are not a consideration when we are younger, but unfortunately they tend to pile on as we age.
Weight bearing exercises have been shown to improve bone density which, with the proper diet, can help to prevent osteoporosis.
Your blood pressure and heart will also benefit from maintaining a healthy weight and cardio conducted at the right range (a monitor is important to identify it for yourself) and regular exercise is prescribed for heart patients.
Stress, diabetes and a host of other ailments have been known to respond to a healthy diet and regular exercise.
What Type Of Exercise Do You Need To Meet Your Body’s Needs?
Doctors recommend a combination of stretches, cardio and strength and core training to provide a balanced fitness program. Many popular circuit training programs incorporate all of them in by having your begin and end each workout with extended stretches and moving from cardio to weight training during your workout.
In planning a well-balanced workout, make sure you include some form of each of these types of exercise that will help you lose weight and maintain a strong body:
Flexibility can decrease dramatically as you get older, if you sit at a desk all day ,and if you don’t do some form of stretching regularly. Stretching warms up & cools down your muscles before & after other exercise, and gives you a better range of motion and flexibility through your normal activities.
You can do easy, coordinated stretch exercises at home in the morning when you first get up and at night before going to bed. You’ll be limber and ready for your day and your nighttime stretches will ease away stressed muscles and help you get a good night’s sleep.
Yoga and Pilates classes are based on gentle and deep stretching. Whether you go to a class or do them at home, the benefits of these practices are wonderful physically and mentally.
Barre workout are among my favorite ways to exercise. Barre incorporates both deep stretching and weight bearing by having you use your body to work against.
No matter how much stretching you do independently, you should always take the time to stretch before and after other exercises.
Cardio is the most recognizable form of exercise and the one most new to fitness gravitate to.
Whether you decide on a walking or running program, swimming, hiking, biking or calisthenics, the goal of cardio is to get your heart pumping and your body energized.
Be sure to monitor your heart rate during cardio to make sure you are in the target zone for the results you are after.
3. Strength training
Strength training doesn’t only mean lifting huge weights and growing big muscles! As a matter of fact, women are advised to lift small weight for greater repetitions to build muscle without bulk.
Isolated muscle groups machines, both gym and home versions, can help you strengthen areas of the body where you are weaker. TRX and Barre workouts are based on the principle that your own body is the ideal tool to build muscle tone. Other strength training includes small handheld weights used independently or while walking, dumbells and kettle bell exercises. There are many more, of course, and trying different ones will keep you from getting bored.
4. Core training
Core-strength is very important as you get older. Core muscles, including your abdominal muscles, back muscles and the muscles around the pelvis are what give you balance and the strength needed for lifting and bending properly. Poor core strength is likely to leave you susceptible to falls and with aching back and legs.
The Mayo Clinic has a simple set of core exercises you can follow. Other methods mentioned earlier (Yoga, Pilates, TRX) among others incorporate more than one type of the exercise forms you need.
The Benefit Of Tracking Your Workouts
As with any new habit, being accountable is key to making the behavior something you will continue to repeat.
Tracking your workouts can be done by simply writing your time doing cardio, the numbers of weight repetitions you did and your food intake for the day in a notebook or on a spreadsheet.
I love the convenience of a tracker that will do all that work for me. And reward me for every milestone I hit. I have my Fitbit synced with MyFitnessPal so that all of my meals are balanced into my daily workouts. It gives me a complete picture of how I’m doing. I also love having it ping me (I get a little vibration through my watch tracker) to tell me when I’ve reached my step goal or when I’ve hit a high amount of mileage for the week. Nothing like instant feedback and recognition.
Phone apps are also an added convenience so that you can check on your progress throughout your day.
Some apps track your overall fitness and sync with most food tracking apps, while others simply track your workouts.
- Fitbit (the app is free for both Android and iPhone but you need to have a Fitbit device) I will admit to a bias here. I’ve been using Fitbit for several years. Here is my newest tracker and all of its functions are incredible! The app has a great interface and is easy to use in conjunction with the wearable trackers.
- Jawbone Up (the app is free for both Android and iPhone but you need to have a Jawbone device)
- Pacer Pedometer & Weight Loss Coach (free & for both Android and iPhone). If you want something simple and free to track your steps (all you need is your phone with the app installed), then this is for you!
So choose the tracking method of your choice and be sure to include each of the 4 types of exercise that will help you lose weight in your every day program.
Don’t forget to check with your doctor before starting any exercise program and to learn new techniques from a certified trainer. It’s not worth injuring yourself when adaptations can protect you and get you moving.