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Being in the 50’s is not what it used to be – just look at super-fit celebrities like Jennifer Lopez, Halle Berry and Jennifer Aniston. These women did not get in shape by encircling it with their exercise routines.
Experts emphasize that it is crucial for all women, including those over 50, to exercise regularly. “It should not be underestimated that all women over 50 definitely need to exercise,” says Dr. Beth Froese, a sports medicine doctor at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital, to Yahoo Life. “Major changes in the body happen when a woman enters menopause and beyond.”
But while you are turning to a certain age, it does not mean that you have to change your exercise routine dramatically, there are some considerations to keep in mind when you are over 50 years old. “Cardiovascular exercises such as walking or cycling are important for maintaining a healthy heart and lungs as we age, and women over 50 should also strive to integrate muscle-building strength training activities,” says Dr.. Natasha Trentacosta, a sports medicine specialist and orthopedic surgeon at the Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles, tells Yahoo Life.
Strength training helps build muscle mass and strength, along with increased bone density, which is important as you age, says Trentacosta. “This helps keep women stronger and prevents injury,” she adds.
In general, women over 50 should strive for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week, per Guidelines for Physical Activity for Americans. “I would recommend three days a week of resistance training, as well as aerobic training,” says Dr. Jessalynn Adam, MD, an orthopedist at Baltimore’s Mercy Medical Center, for Yahoo Life. Adding a few days of yoga and tai chi for stretching, strengthening and balance can also be helpful, she says.
Overall, though, it’s important to have many different types of exercise in the mix, Alexa Rohach, a physiotherapist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center Performance Therapy in Santa Monica, California, tells Yahoo Life. “Resistance training, aerobic exercise and exercises that work in balance are all important,” she says. “But resistance training can give you the best value for your money – it helps with endurance and increases muscle strength.”
Of course, every woman is different and individual preferences come into play when choosing a workout routine. But in general, experts say that there are some exercises that are best for women over 50 years. Try these and hang some items to boost your home workouts.
Planks help strengthen your core, which is important for good posture and reduces the risk of developing back problems, says Adam. A Bosu ball can improve your core stability, she says. You can hold the ball, either round or flat side down while planking.
A thick yoga mat is good when you plank (or do some form of floor exercise), says Froese. “A thick yoga mat is an important tool for floor training in women of most ages, but especially over 50 years,” she says. “This allows for more comfortable training, which helps keep it up.”
Lungs work with the muscles in the lower body, such as your quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings, and adding a medicine ball to the mixture can help with strength and balance, says Trentacosta. “Simply holding the ball’s extra weight can provide similar benefits as handheld weights,” she says. “Incorporating a trunk twist can work with toning the abdominal and upper extremities and also the stabilizing muscles when creating an unstable environment during movement.”
Walking on your own is a great form of exercise, but if you add ankle weight, it helps to lift things up. “Ankle weight allows for increased resistive forces as you walk,” says Froese. “This is an easy way to burn more calories and increase the strengthening of the lower extremities.” Joining the ankle can even help build bone density, says Froese.
Yoga is ideal for general movement, stretching and strength building, says Rohach. The tools you want depend on your individual needs, but Trentacosta says foam blocks can be helpful. “Foam blocks make certain movements and are more comfortable for the aging body,” she says. Using them for support around the hips and knees during certain knee flexion routines can help relieve stress over the knee joint. When you lean on a block for support during unsteady movements, you can maintain postures longer to reap the full benefits of yoga. “The changes that a foam block allows can ‘help make yoga less intimidating and more accessible,'” Trentacosta says.
Doing resistance training with lightweight dumbbells “gives you many options with resistance training,” says Rohach. “You do not need anything over 10 pounds,” she adds. She recommends using them for squats, upper body presses and bicep curls. “Every weight-bearing, resistance-type workout will help strengthen your legs,” says Adam. “Carrying the load will help prevent bone loss as you age.”
Stretching is often an afterthought, but Froese says it should not be. “Stretching means better flexibility, which can affect the quality of life,” she says. “As we age, flexibility and agility must be earned.” “She recommends that you stretch all body parts, including large muscle groups. One tool that can help per Adam is a stretch strap – it is especially good for working hard-to-reach areas, such as hamstrings.
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