As we age, we face different health concerns than when we were younger. One important aspect of overall health and wellness that is often neglected as we age is muscle strength. It’s not just about looking toned and fit; building muscle has a range of benefits for women over 60.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss the importance of strength training for mature women like us, and provide tips on how to get started!
Please note that this article is for informational purposes. It has not been authored or reviewed by a medical professional, and is intended to provide the basics for women in their 60s who are interested in learning about the benefits of building muscle in midlife.
Before you begin any new type of exercise program be sure to consult with your doctor.
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- Is 60 Too Old for Strength Training?
- Can You Start Working Out Later in Life?
- Do You Need to Use Weights to Build Strength?
- It's About More Than Working Out
- Get Your Rest
- Personalize Your Plan
- What Types of Exercises Should We Do?
- Conclusion: Building Muscle After 60
Is 60 Too Old for Strength Training?
Building muscle when you are over 60 might seem like a daunting task, but it can provide many lasting benefits.
Strength training is incredibly helpful for maintaining bones and joint health, and can help prevent the incidence of certain types of fractures. It helps to improve metabolism and balance, and can even reduce pain from existing conditions such as arthritis or sciatica.
Building muscle over 60 also helps to prevent diseases like osteoporosis, promotes better balance and posture, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improves sleep quality, and can even reduce joint pain.
Building muscle has been shown to enhance physical function in everyday activities such as walking or getting up from a chair. So if you think that 60 is too old for strength training, think again, my friend!
Can You Start Working Out Later in Life?
If you are a woman who has not been involved in fitness for many years and is now over 60, it’s never too late to gain muscle. Not only will regular exercise reduce your risk of injury, but it also helps to improve body composition, strength, and balance.
Gaining muscle at any age offers numerous benefits such as lowering your risk of obesity-related chronic conditions; increased metabolism which can lead to weight loss; strengthened bones, joints, and posture; improved sleep quality; and enhanced overall mood.
You don’t have to be an avid gym-goer or athlete: there’s a range of exercises suited to different levels that offer quick workouts with effective results—from basic free weight lifts that use the force of gravity, to aerobic classes designed for every generation in mind.
Do You Need to Use Weights to Build Strength?
You may be wondering if lifting weights is necessary for your body. The short answer is yes; weight training should definitely be included in your exercise routine.
Not only does it help to improve posture and balance, but also builds bone density and muscular strength. This type of strength training helps protect against falls which can be more dangerous for older adults.
Additionally, as we get older our metabolism slows down, and building muscle can help raise it back up! Weight training also improves joint flexibility which is particularly important for women who are post-menopausal.
So don’t hesitate to add some resistance training into your workout routine – it will give you the results of healthier bones, an increased metabolism, improved flexibility, and better balance – all in one package!
How about using our body weight as resistance to build muscle?
Using your body weight to build muscle is a great way to get the job done for anyone over 60. By doing exercises like push-ups and squats, you can start to gain leaner, stronger muscles and slow down the muscle loss due to age.
All of this also comes with plenty of added benefits—such as improved balance, posture, and more efficient movement that are all necessary for overall well-being as you continue to age. As an added bonus, these types of exercises can usually be done at home without any special equipment, so getting started is easy.
What I do as a woman in my 60s
Although I can feel the difference in my stamina as I move through my 60s and am on the fringes of hitting the 7-0 mark, I continue to use a combination of aerobics, strength training with light weights, and body weight resistance exercises to maintain a healthy fitness level.
Aerobic exercise, walking specifically, is something that I love to do. Even when it’s too cold outside for me, I create indoor walking workouts. As part of those workouts (and to keep me from getting too bored), I add in various lunges and squats, carry light weights and do some simple arm exercises while walking in place, and some balance exercises as well.
A few times a week I’ll set aside about 30 minutes to do strength building floor exercises along with some weight training. Nothing too heavy for me at this point in my life; 5 pounds is about the max. But, consistency does pay off over time.
It’s About More Than Working Out
Building muscle over 60 can be a great way to help keep your body in shape and opens the door to multiple health benefits. While strength training is beneficial, it’s not enough on its own.
Engaging in other aspects of healthy living habits like proper nutrition, getting adequate rest, and setting individualized workout plans are vital parts of the fitness journey. Let’s discuss them in a bit more detail.
As women over 60, nutrition plays an important role in our overall health and wellbeing. But it’s especially vital when we want to build muscle. Eating the right foods helps us fuel our workouts and get the most out of them. Here are some tips for incorporating good nutrition into your exercise routine.
Paying Attention to Portion Size
It’s essential to pay attention to portion size when it comes to food. Eating too much is easy, especially if you are used to eating larger portions from your younger years.
While it’s tempting just to have another slice of cake or a large helping of pasta, keep in mind that this is going to affect your energy levels later on—and might even lead to weight gain if done consistently. Instead, focus on smaller servings, but make sure they are balanced with all the nutrients your body needs.
Protein Is Your Friend
At any age, protein is an important part of dieting because it helps build muscles and aids in recovery after exercise. When you are over 60, however, protein becomes even more important because it helps prevent muscle loss due to aging.
The good news is that you don’t need a lot of protein—just 1-2 servings per day should be enough for most people. Good sources of protein include lean meats like chicken and fish as well as plant-based proteins like beans and nuts.
Hydration Is Key
Staying hydrated is also essential for maintaining proper health during midlife and beyond. Proper hydration helps keep joints lubricated, which can help with pain management and mobility issues as we get older.
Hydration also keeps skin looking healthy and prevents fatigue by keeping electrolytes balanced throughout the day. Try drinking water regularly throughout the day rather than relying on sugary drinks or juices for hydration—your body will thank you!
When it comes down to it, nutrition plays an important role in staying healthy during your golden years—especially when engaging in exercises meant to build muscle mass. Eating a balanced diet with lots of proteins and plenty of hydration can go a long way towards keeping us feeling active and energized throughout the day—and help us retain muscle mass despite our advancing age! So keep these simple tips in mind as you embark on your fitness journey!
Get Your Rest
As women over 60, we are often told that exercise is necessary to maintain strength and muscle. But have you ever considered that adequate rest is just as important when it comes to your overall health?
Not only can proper rest improve your physical well-being, but it can also help you stay mentally sharp. Let’s explore the importance of getting enough rest as we age.
When you get adequate sleep, your body has time to repair itself and restore any damage caused by daily activities. During this time, your body produces hormones that are responsible for growth and development, including regulating insulin production and strengthening your immune system.
Your body also uses this time to make new cells and rid itself of toxins that could otherwise be harmful to your health. Additionally, sleeping helps the brain store information and improves its ability to focus during the day.
Good Sleep Habits
But getting enough sleep isn’t just about how many hours we spend in bed — it’s also about developing good sleep habits. Establishing a regular sleep schedule will help you maintain a healthy lifestyle, even if it means going to bed earlier or waking up later than usual on occasion.
Try not to nap too much during the day; this can disrupt your natural circadian rhythm and make it harder for you to fall asleep at night.
Finally, create a calming environment in which you can relax before bedtime; reading a book or listening to soothing music are great ways to unwind after a long day.
Exercising & Resting
Getting enough rest will help improve both physical and mental performance while exercising — allowing you to reach your fitness goals more quickly and sustainably than without proper rest!
Sufficient rest also helps reduce stress levels which can lead to better cognitive functioning as well as more balanced moods throughout the day. In addition, having good sleeping habits can also help boost memory recall since memories are processed during REM sleep cycles (Rapid Eye Movement).
Personalize Your Plan
As women over 60, it’s important to evaluate our health and physical abilities before starting a new exercise routine. Exercise is a great way to maintain your health as you get older, but it’s important to make sure that the exercise routine you choose is right for you.
So let’s take a look at how to evaluate your health and physical abilities before you start exercising.
Understand Your Limitations
Remember that everyone’s body is different—and will change as they get older. That’s why it’s important—especially if you’re over 60—to understand what your body can handle and what its limitations are when it comes to exercise.
This means taking into account any chronic conditions or injuries you may have, as well as any medications you may be taking. For example, if you have arthritis, then activities like running or weight lifting may not be suitable for you.
Similarly, if you take blood thinners, then exercises such as yoga or Pilates where there is an increased risk of falls may not be ideal for your situation either.
Create Your Plan
Once you know the types of exercises that are safe for your body and their limits, it’s time to create a personalized exercise plan just for yourself. Consider both aerobic activities (such as walking or swimming) and anaerobic activities (such as strength training).
And don’t forget about flexibility exercises! Stretching helps keep muscles limber and can help prevent injury while exercising.
In general, if you’re a healthy woman in midlife, aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity on most days of the week with at least two days dedicated towards strength training activities. Flexibility exercises don’t need to take up large chunks of time; just two 10-minute sessions per week are enough to do the trick!
Set SMART Goals
Now that you know what types of activities are best suited for your body type and capabilities, it’s time to set some goals!
Make sure that these goals are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant & Timely). For example: “I want to walk 3 times a week for 30 minutes each session with the goal of increasing my pace by 5% each month.” Having specific goals like this will help ensure that your exercise routine is tailored just for YOU!
You deserve to feel strong, fit, and energized – aging shouldn’t mean an end to your physical activity goals! Consider giving strength training a try with gentle exercises that help increase balance, decrease the risk of injury and most importantly improve overall health inside and out.
What Types of Exercises Should We Do?
Staying fit and active is an important part of living a healthy lifestyle, regardless of age. As you get older, it becomes even more important to exercise in order to maintain your strength, balance, and flexibility.
Here are some great exercises that women over 60 can do as part of their regular fitness routine. I realize that not every type of exercise is a good fit for you, my friend. And, these lists can seem daunting!
What I want you to see is that there are many types of exercises available to us as women over 60, depending on our overall health and ability to move our bodies.
Strength exercises are essential for increasing muscle mass, maintaining bone density, and improving balance.
Examples of strength exercises that women over 60 can do include:
- squats (using a chair or wall for support if necessary),
- leg curls,
- bicep curls with dumbbells,
- tricep extensions with dumbbells or resistance bands,
- plank holds (start with 15 seconds and work your way up to 1 minute),
- and push-ups (again start with 15 seconds)
For each exercise listed above feel free to adjust the intensity level by increasing or decreasing the amount of weight used or reps performed. More about some of these exercises below.
Balance exercises are key for preventing falls and maintaining independence as we age. Balance exercises that women over 60 can incorporate into their fitness routines include:
- single-leg stands (try holding a 15-second stand on each leg),
- heel raises (3 sets of 10 reps on each leg),
- single-leg dips (try doing 3 sets of 10 reps on each leg while using a bench or chair for support),
- side steps (use an exercise band around your ankles and take 8 steps in one direction then 8 steps in the other direction),
- one-legged balance reaches (hold onto something sturdy like a chair for balance then reach out in front with one arm while standing on one leg) and
- forward reaching toe touches (reach out towards your toes from a standing position).
Exercises using just your bodyweight
You don’t need fancy equipment or belong to a gym to do this. In fact, several bodyweight exercises can help you build strength and muscle without needing any equipment at all.
Squats are one of the best exercises for building strength and muscle in your lower body because they target multiple muscle groups. They’re one of my favorites!
To perform a squat, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing slightly outwards. Then, keeping your back straight, bend down until your thighs are parallel with the ground (or as close as possible). Hold this position for a few seconds before returning to the starting position.
Start with three sets of 10 repetitions each and work up from there as you become stronger.
Lunges are another excellent exercise for targeting multiple muscle groups in the legs simultaneously while also helping improve balance and coordination. I regularly include lunges as part of my exercise routine. They definitely work on balance as well as strengthening the muscles.
Start by standing with both feet together before stepping forward with one leg while bending both knees until they form 90-degree angles (your front knee should be directly above your ankle). Push off from the ground with both legs (back foot first) until you return back to standing upright with both feet together again before repeating on the other side.
Do three sets of 10 reps on each side for best results!
Planks are a form of static strength training, where you hold your body in a position for 30 seconds to 1 minute. When done correctly, planks engage your core muscles as well as your back, glutes, and arms.
I have to be honest – I struggle with planks and find that by positioning myself on my knees rather than on my toes I am more stable and successful, a beginning position that I can’t seem to move past for any length of time.
For beginners, there are simple ways to work up to doing planks properly – start with maintaining the position on your knees rather than directly on your toes.
By taking some time every day to incorporate plank exercises into your routine, you’ll tone your muscles while challenging yourself physically and gaining better balance and posture.
Watch, Learn, and Do
If you want to make more sense of these strength and muscle-building exercises, here are a couple of women who offer plenty of instruction on their YouTube channels:
Conclusion: Building Muscle After 60
As women over the age of 60, it is important to stay active and healthy. Regular exercise will help maintain strength, muscle tone, balance, and posture. Incorporating balance exercises such as single-leg stands and heel raises into your routine will help prevent falls and maintain independence.
Exercises that use just body weight can also be a great way to build strength and muscle without the need for equipment. Incorporating these exercises into your daily routine will help you stay fit and healthy while also building strength and muscle as you age.
By staying active, eating well, and taking care of yourself, you can remain strong and enjoy a healthy lifestyle as you move toward your senior years.
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