We’re women in midlife and we know that exercise and fitness are beneficial for our health and well being, even our longevity. It’s not an option, it is a must-do.
When I hear women of a certain age say that they ‘can’t get motivated’ to exercise, I just want to take them aside, give them a big hug and remind them that they are the only person who can take care of themselves physically, emotionally and spiritually. No one else can do it for them.
So let’s all agree that we’re going to nurture ourselves the best we
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Why It is So Important to Have a Fitness Plan
Let’s step back for just a moment and consider why it’s so important to remain strong and fit as we age. You may have read or heard these facts many times before (I’ve written about them more than once!), but they deserve some emphasis.
And, it will make much more sense to you when searching for the ‘best exercise for a 55-year-old women’, or ‘workouts for a 60 year old female’, or even ‘old lady workouts’ (ha!) if you understand and accept WHY you need to make this a priority in your life.
A Slower Metabolism
As we get older our metabolism starts to slow down. In general, fat increases and muscle mass (lean tissue) as well as mineral bone density decrease. We’re losin’ the good stuff and gaining what we would rather not have!
Factor in other lifestyle choices such as smoking, dietary habits,
The Belly Fat
As our metabolism is slowing, the fat is also shifting…toward our middle.
Belly fat is frustrating enough on it
Our Eating Habits
The importance we give to eating well has the potential to help us to live longer, or shorten our life.
It can be very difficult to change our habits and patterns as we get older, particularly those we’ve held onto for many years.
Do any of these statements sound familiar to you?
- But we’ve always had (something not healthy) for breakfast!
- We love to go to our favorite restaurant every week for (artery-clogging entrees)!
- The weekend just wouldn’t be the same without our special (high carbohydrate processed junk food)!
- I just don’t want to give up my (calorie filled snack), I deserve it!
Why we eat the way we do is a topic for another post, but the point is this: our eating habits – what we decide to eat and when – are just as much of a factor in our overall health and fitness as our exercise routine.
Before you begin searching for the best fitness program:
Now that you’ve got the WHY of this in place, there are two steps you should always take before starting your search for that perfect exercise routine for your over 50 self.
1) Visit with your physician
It’s always smart to get the okay from your doctor if you are going to start a new type of exercise program, particularly as the aging process continues.
Things are always changing in our bodies, and our health can take a shift here and there as well, so don’t assume everything is just fine. This is particularly important if you have, or have had, ongoing health issues.
Remember to be smart and proactive with your decisions.
2) Remember your age
I don’t spend all day every day thinking about the fact that I’m in my 60’s. Who wants to do that??
But, I do sometimes have to remind myself that I’m not 25 anymore, and my body won’t do 25 year old things, at least not without the potential of injury.
So keep that in mind as you’re considering the best exercise routines for a woman your age and with your particular physical abilities.
What motivates you?
We are all unique, so what works tremendously well for me might not be the best direction for you. There is no right or wrong, just what’s right for you.
As you consider the exercise routine and fitness program that you’re going to commit to, ponder these questions:
- How is your overall health? Any limitations?
- How long has it been since you exercised regularly?
- What do you enjoy doing?
- Do you have schedule limitations?
- Is there a new type of exercise you’d like to learn?
- What climate do you live in? Can you be outside year round? part of the year? hardly at all?
- Do you find it easier to commit to a local group setting?
- Are online fitness programs appealing?
- Do you find more success committing to an activity with a ‘buddy’?
- Have you thought about a personal fitness or lifestyle coach?
This is a very important part of your decision making process, so take some time to consider these questions.
You may have been exercising for awhile, or for years, or not at all. It doesn’t matter. Maybe it’s time to change things up a bit and find a workout routine that will be more effective for you.
What should the best exercise routines for a 55 year old woman include?
There are many exercises that we can do to stay fit and strong as we age. Here are three that are considered as essential:
The Plank is probably the #1 best all around full body strengthening and toning exercise there is. Your arms, legs, hips, core, back and bum receive the benefit from this strengthening exercise.
It isn’t the type of toning that you try once and master…you need to work up to it.
I found an excellent, short video that explains and demonstrates the three types of planks you can do. Be sure to watch this before you start ‘planking’.
The Bicep Curl is a basic strength training move that helps tighten, tone and strengthen your arms. And, we know what happens to our arms as we get older, don’t we ladies?
Here is a basic bicep curl:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart while holding a pair of dumbbells by your sides with your palms facing away from you. This is your start position.
- Exhale and curl your dumbbells up until your wrists are facing your shoulders.
- Inhale and slowly lower the weight back down to the start position to complete one rep.
There are a number of variations on the bicep curl that can help strengthen and define your arms. I have followed Christina Carlyle’s advice for toning arms for quite awhile now, and am going to direct you to her site for much more information, instruction, videos and even some anatomy basics for a bicep workout.
The Squat is a simple yet effective toning and strengthening exercise that should be on the list when searching for the best exercise routines for us as women over 50.
Your glutes, quads and hamstrings will benefit from this move. Here are some simple directions:
- Stand tall with your feet hip-distance apart. Your hips, knees, and toes should all be facing forward. (If you want to increase the difficulty, hold a dumbbell in each hand).
- Bend your knees and extend your butt backward as if you are going to sit back into a chair. Make sure that you keep your knees behind your toes and your weight in your heels. Rise back up and repeat.
There are many aerobic activities that will help us keep our metabolism moving and our body fit. Aerobic exercise is any type of cardiovascular conditioning. What will work for you?
Think about your lifestyle, your location, your overall health and stamina, and very importantly, what you enjoy doing.
Here are some suggestions:
- Brisk walk
- Bike riding – outside or stationary
- Elliptical machine
Bottom line…you need to figure out what works and commit to it!
When you’re pondering how to find the best exercise routines for over 50 and over 60 women, it’s really all about YOU, what motivates you, engages you, keeps you committed.
That is what you need to find. And guess what? It’s found within you. I would love to be able to give you a chart, or a list, or a quiz, to help you arrive at the perfect answer. You know…answer these 5 questions and you’ll know exactly what type of fitness routine will be successful for you.
I can’t do that, but I do know this. You can find that balance of motivation, encouragement, exercise and commitment.
It will take some hard thinking, brutal honesty and maybe a bit of soul searching, but you can find the best exercises for you, personally, that you can commit to and stick with, as a woman over 50, over 60, or over 70.
I’ll use myself as an example. This is what I know about me:
- I am self motivated
- I don’t need a buddy or a coach
- I’m sort of a loner
- Attending classes at a set time doesn’t suit my lifestyle
- I want to work out on my own schedule
- Online sources and programs are appealing to me
- I’m vain enough that I refuse to let myself become overweight
- I love to walk outside
- My running days are over
- I’m not a swimmer
- Yoga eludes me but I will keep trying!
- I’m willing to try new types of exercise
- I like to ride a bike, particularly a stationary bike
- I’m not a gym or fitness center type of person
- I’m willing to invest in myself by spending some money monthly for online fitness membership(s) that meet my ‘fitness program’ criteria
Knowing these things about myself and what works for me today, right now, this is my exercise program as a woman over 60:
- Walk outdoors, approx. 1 to 1 1/2 miles, 5 days per week minimum when the climate permits, Goal: purchase a treadmill before the next winter season
- Body Groove dance aerobic fitness 30 minutes in the morning as part of my morning routine, 5 days per week minimum
- Stationary bike, 5 days per week minimum for 25 to 30 minutes
I use this exercise bike, with a built-in upper body strength system. It looks a bit unusual, but I love it, and it fits my ‘multi tasking’ type personality perfectly. 🙂
- Floor exercises for maintaining muscle tone and strength, 3 times per week for 20 minutes. Examples: squats, modified planks, glute exercises, crunches, etc.
- Weight training, 3 times per week for 20 to 30 minutes using free weights and fitness bands
I have learned that in order to really benefit from my workouts and exercise routines as a woman over 50, I need to include three essentials:
- well-fitting workout clothes (and a nice look, too!)
- proper shoes are a must, particularly for walking
- along with the shoes, the most comfortable socks that stay in place!
The best exercises for a 55 year old woman? Your exercise routine commitment needs to include both aerobic and strength training, in whatever capacity you are able to perform.
My Challenge to You:
Take the time to go through and list, honestly, where you are in your life when it comes to fitness. Create a list, similar to what I created above.
Your list will not look just like mine, or your spouse/partner, or your friend, or your adult child, or anyone else. They’re your own preferences, and you do have preferences.
Think twice about joining a workout class if going to a fitness center or gym is just not your thing. Find out what your thing is, and commit to it.
Here is a simple worksheet I created for you, to help you go through the same process I did and find the best fitness routine for you as a woman over 50. It really does help to write your thoughts down!
It’s found in my Free Resource Library…grab your copy today!
You’ll find this printable in the “Exercise & Fitness” section, titled “How to Find the Best Exercise Routines for You”
Finding the best exercises for a 55 year old woman, or 60, or 65, is a personal decision, based on your overall health, lifestyle and preferences. If you have a spouse , partner or best buddy, and you have a wonderful fitness plan that makes you both happy, that’s awesome!
When we were first married, my husband and I loved to workout together, but he was a runner and I was a slow jogger. So we’d go our own way for that part of the exercise. Still, we were committed and would encourage each other. It was great.
Whatever you decide, please commit to both aerobic and strength training as well as other healthy lifestyle habits. Be wise and realistic, but know that these choices will help you feel better now and perhaps live longer, too.
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19 thoughts on “Find the Best Exercises for a 55 Year Old Woman (and Beyond!) to Stay Fit and Strong”
Great post. I do a lot of aerobic exercise (love my bike) and know that I need to to do strength training and how important it is. This was a great reminder and I’m gonna search for my weights today.
Hi Anne, yes, strength training is a critical piece of the workout puzzle for us in midlife. Go find those weights! 🙂
As I was reading through your post, Candi, I found myself nodding yes to so many of the points. Luckily for me, I really enjoy being physically active. That doesn’t mean that every time the alarm goes off for an early morning run, or every time I head to the gym after work, I’m excited about it. But I can honestly say I’ve never regretted a workout once I got started. I’m 57 years old, and my schedule looks something like this each week: two or three Orangetheory Fitness (combination of cardio and weights) classes, one or two 3-mile runs, one yoga session, and a hike or stationary bike ride. Friday is rest day! My primary motivation is staying strong, flexible, and balanced, so that I can maintain my independence and enjoy as much of this big, beautiful world as possible for as long as possible. #MLSTL
You are a smart woman, Christie! Loved reading the specifics of your weekly workout schedule. 🙂
Great advice here Candi. I agree, as we age, and at any age really, both cardio and strength training are important. Thanks for the downloadable worksheet. #MLSTL Will share on SM
You are very welcome, Jennifer, I hope you find the printable worksheet helpful. Thanks so much for stopping by!
Another long and thorough post Candi – I think you covered everything and really there’s no excuse not to be exercising and eating healthily in our 50’s and beyond. I’ve certainly found that my metabolism has slowed significantly since my 20’s and 30’s – so I just have to be more intentional and move more and eat less these days.
Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂
I think you’ve summed it up quite nicely, Leanne: move more and eat less. It sounds simple and easy but it can be challenging. We all need to tape this on our bathroom mirror!
I really enjoyed the part where you listed what you know about yourself. I think this would be a helpful exercise for any of to do and gets us understanding where and how we want to exercise. I know I need to add some strengthening exercises into my running/walking/cycling routines but just haven’t managed to do it yet. Also being mid winter here it’s hard to get outside! Pinned for #mlstl
Hi Deb, yes, I agree that taking the time to list the realities of where we are in our life in terms of physical activity, then coming up with a plan that we’re more likely to actually commit to. I know it has been helpful for me! Thanks for taking the time to stop by.
Hi Candi! Valuable information! I agree, planks are very important in building core strength. I use a device called a “Plankster” by Stealth Core Fitness. It sits on a swivel so you have to add some balance to your planking routine. To keep things exciting you can a couple of video games to play which are activated by your movement on the device. It is really a lot of fun and a great workout in building core strength and balance. I also love swimming laps which is a good thing because I recently injured my foot and have to curtail weight bearing exercises for a while. My hubby and I swim every evening and then tread water and talk about the day. Keeping exercise interesting and fun is the ticket for me! Cheers! Shared on SM! xx
Hi Barbie, that Plankster sounds like quite a workout for the core! And swimming is a wonderful way to get/stay in shape without putting pressure on the joints. Thanks so much for stopping by and for sharing!
What a comprehensive post Candi and it must have taken quite a while to research. We need to have a fitness plan for all the obvious reasons but also to actually help us stick to it. I always enjoyed having a personal trainer because I didn’t have to think what I was going to do – she had the program ready for me. A program keeps us on track, we can see progress and can schedule it in so no excuses. Thanks for sharing at #MLSTL and I’ll be sharing on my Thrive Health and Wellness FB page.
Hi Sue, having a trainer would be nice in that they do the planning for you, as you mentioned. I found that really thinking about what I enjoy doing and want to do, then tailoring my workout schedule around that, has really helped me. I agree that sticking to the plan is critical! xo
Great post. Yes one has to find what works for them. I have done Belly dancing and Tai Chi…unfortunalty where I live those two are not on offer. So once I got the clear from the physio – I injured my right knee..ACL MCL and a fracture on a flight home nearly 2 years ago. I opted for no surgery or scopes..so physio…I now have joined a gym and Im actually loving it. Love the way my body is slowly changing. visiting from #MLSTL
Hi Bree, I’m glad that you’ve recovered and are enjoying the gym! Thanks so much for stopping by.
Thanks for the reminders on this important topic. My Zumba class, which was a weekly must do for me, was just cancelled! I know I need to find a replacement. Unlike you, I appreciate a couple of classes booked a week – it adds to my accountability. That said, it looks like my weekly yoga class might be going away also (the place might be closing). Ack. I’ve started a list of places to explore to see if I feel comfortable there. It took me awhile to find those yoga and Zumba instructors! Raising the priority of that search activity.
Visiting from #MLSTL
Hi Patricia, what a bummer that your classes are being cancelled, but it sounds like you’re committed to staying fit so I’m sure you’ll keep searching until you find the right fit for you. Staying in shape is work, isn’t it?! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂
Great post on exercise. I have been doing the HASFIT weight training programmes for a few years. You can select seniors/beginners/muscle group/style. You can do as little as 5 minutes or as much as you want. The nice trainer and his positive wife do a great job of encouragement. I try to do one muscle group every morning and usually get 5/7 days in. Add some yoga by Adriene, walk the dog and I am good to go!
Even better-all activities for free!