I compare the aging process to the scene in Indiana Jones where Harrison Ford runs from a giant boulder chasing him through a tunnel.
The rock represents everything I hate about aging: aches, pains, depression, menopause, night sweats and depression. (I realize I mentioned depression twice, but it’s on my mind so I’m leaving it.)
It’s sometimes hard to stay in front of that rolling stone. In fact, it can roll right over your head and leave you flattened out, wondering if it’s such a bad thing to never get out of bed again.
I’m here to tell you: You are not alone. In fact, I fight off that feeling Monday through Sunday.
Menopause is a bear. Actually it’s more like Bigfoot: You won’t believe it until you experience it.
I use humor and exercise to cope, both of which keep me one step ahead of the rock. (Not The Rock, although dealing with Dwayne Johnson is probably not much different than wrestling Bigfoot.)
It’s worse if you haven’t worked out since the days of Flashdance and suddenly realize you’re 50 years old and leg warmers are no longer an acceptable workout accessory.
Old habits die hard.
So you Google “women + over 50” and ended up here. If so, WELCOME! Glad you’re here. You’ve come to the right place.
I would tell you I’m here to help you forget all about your troubles, but my pants would immediately burst into flames.
I’m only human.
I can, however, help you with fitness and diet advice because I’ve been there, done that. I lost over 15 pounds after going through menopause nearly 10 years ago.
So yes, you can, too.
One way? Know what you need to do. Today we focus on exercise…
I’ve written a lot about various exercises and exercise routines, but I get many emails from women asking me:
I don’t know much about the last question, but I can help you with the others.
Even if you’re worked out for a while you may still benefit from checking yourself on these basic principles. I structured them according to the questions I get most often:
How much so I need?
For general heart health, 30 minutes of activity on most days of the week. This may be broken up into 3, 10-minute mini bouts, which research shows is as healthful as a 30-minute continuous workout.
What’s the best approach for weight loss?
Anything you like to do and that you can do consistently, based on your fitness level and availability of equipment. I realize that’s vague, but if I tell you camel riding burns the most calories but you hate camels, have no access to camels or otherwise find the idea repulsive, what good would it do, right? Find something you don’t hate (I won’t even say “like,” since you may never heart exercise) and do it regularly.
Include intervals, where you vary the speed in 30 to 60 second increments and do this once or twice a week in between longer, endurance workouts of 45 minutes or longer.
Yes, vary your workouts every month or so to avoid overuse injuries, which happens with anything you do every single day. Walk one day, bike another, and do something else active on another, etc.
Do I need it?
Heck, yeah, more than ever after 50. We gradually lose muscle through the natural aging process, which begins around your mid-30s. Since it takes a lot more calories to maintain muscle than fat, this loss of muscle brings down your metabolism. Plus, you get flabby without it. Weight training – which includes everything from using your own body weight (squats, push-ups) to dumbbells, barbells, fitness tubing, kettlebells, medicine balls, etc. and is the ONLY way to reverse this process.
How much weight should I use?
Start out easy until you learn the correct form, then gradually increase the resistance until you can do 12 to 15 reps where the last few are a real challenge. This level of resistance triggers a change within the muscle that enables you to see “tone” and shape. If you’re whipping through your workout without much effort you won’t see results.
What’s a “set” and “reps” and how many do I need of each?
Reps refers to the number of repetitions within a set. For example, 3 sets of 15 reps means you do 15 reps within each set. In general, start with one set of 12 to 15 reps per exercise if you’re starting out and work up to two, then three sets.
Aim for three times a week, two minimum. Each workout should include a total body workout.
Which exercises are best for starters?
My (free) 7-Day Challenge (sign up on this page) is a perfect way to learn the ropes. If you need something more personalized, email me and we’ll chat: firstname.lastname@example.org or use the form on my contact page.
Got questions? Post ’em below!
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P.S. Please forward this to your Ageless besties and blast it out on social media… the good karma may come back to you in the form of firmer thighs. You never know.
Linda Melone is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, certified trainer and award-winning health and fitness writer. She specializes in helping women over 50 get in shape and lose weight.