Kick your exercise routine into gear with these essential fitness tips for women. No matter your current fitness goals or abilities, any woman (of any age) can support their health and strength with a solid fitness routine.
Staying Fit As You Age
Staying strong and agile as you age is perhaps the most important thing you can do for your health. Aside from the cardiovascular benefits of staying fit, staying strong may help decrease your risks of falls later in life. Which is a far more serious issue than you may realize.
Take a look at these statistics from the CDC:
- More than one in four people over the age of 65 fall each year.
- Falling once doubles your chances of falling again.
- 95 percent of hip fractures are due to falls.
- Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries.1
The two biggest reasons for these falls are a lack of strength and a lack of balance.2
Are There Any Exercises Women Over 40 Should Avoid?
First, let’s shut down this concept of “age” that humanity loves to define people by. Plenty of women over 40 are still giving birth, running professional marathons, and winning gold medals in Olympic cycling (the remarkable Kristin Armstrong). The number is irrelevant.
Whether your 40, or 50, 60 (or even 90) – what truly matters is that you know your own body, and understand any personal limitations that are unique to you (not your age or your sex).
That’s why you should talk to your doctor when designing a fitness routine. They’re one of the few people that should be setting any physical limitations on you.
As Tony Horton says, “Aging is for people who don’t know any better.”
7 Key Fitness Tips For Women
If you’re looking to up your fitness game, lose some weight, gain strength, or just feel more energetic, these simple fitness tips will help to set you on the right path.
1. Start Small
The more you can incorporate exercise into your daily routine, the more natural (and easy) it will become. Everyone has different schedules, responsibilities, and motivation levels. So, the secret is to start small and build from there. That way you can avoid feeling overwhelmed — which could stop you from working out altogether.
Instead of trying to convince your brain to work out for an hour, tell yourself you’re going to exercise for just five minutes. Then literally exercise for five minutes. Once you start moving, you’ll often decide to go a little longer now you’ve put on your sneakers and workout gear. And, as you get fitter, you can keep upping your minimum time.
If you don’t have even 30 minutes available in your current schedule, break it up throughout the day into 10-minute bouts. Four ten-minute sessions will feel easy, and before you know it, you’ll have completed 40 minutes of exercise today.
2. Make Exercise A Part Of Your Daily Routine
Exercising daily doesn’t mean you have to hit the gym each and every day. A regular workout doesn’t have to be ordinary. Create a varied schedule of fitness activities to keep things fresh and fun.
You could, for example, strength train at the gym three times per week, take a HIIT or cycle class on a Tuesday, yoga on a Friday, and hike with friends on a Saturday. Sunday could be a rest day, or you could walk around the neighborhood with the family after brunch.
Sometimes, you’ll miss a day. Don’t sweat it. Be kind to yourself.
3. Track Your Progress
Use a fitness tracker, or your smartphone, to track your steps each day. This will turn working out into a challenge, or a game. Many people find they become really motivated to crush their daily “steps” goal.
You could also track your workouts on a calendar stuck to the refrigerator. Crossing off the days you work out can be hugely satisfying, and you’ll see your progress every time you hit the fridge. It’s also a nice reminder to also watch what you eat.
4. Incorporate High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
High intensity interval training can sound a little daunting. But it’s simply a form of exercise where you alternate short bursts of high-energy cardio (anaerobic exercise) with short periods of rest. The idea is that you push yourself to the max during these short bursts to get your heart rate up.
The actual activity itself can be an array of things – sprinting, biking, jumping rope, or fast bursts of body weight exercises. The easiest way to get started with a HIIT program is to simply take a HIIT class at your local gym.
So, why is HIIT such a great workout?
To start with, you get way more bang for your buck. Researchers have found that just two minutes of a HIIT routine can give you the same benefits as working out for 30 minutes at a moderate pace.3 Which makes it the perfect workout for the time-starved.
HIIT training is also incredible for weight loss, helping you to burn body fat for hours after you’ve finished.4,5
Finally, it can help the body to better use oxygen (known as aerobic fitness or VO2 max). This measurement is seen as important for heart health, as it helps to assess overall body function and potential risk factors for the future.6
5. The Added Benefits Of Strength Training
While HIIT training gets your cardiovascular fitness up to speed, you’ll also need to focus on strength training to build muscle. Strength training (a.k.a weight training) is essential for everyone – men and women of all ages.
It’s recommended that you try to fit in at least two to three 20-30 minute strength training sessions each week so that you can:
- Increase your muscle mass which naturally decreases with age.
- Support bone health by increasing bone density.
- Promote good joint flexibility, helping joints stay flexible.
- Manage your weight: When you gain muscle, your body burns calories more easily.
- Increase your balance, helping to reduce falls and injuries.7
But don’t worry if you don’t like the weight room at the gym. There are many ways you can incorporate strength training into your week. For example, you could work with a personal trainer, you could use weights at home using a YouTube or app-instructed workout, or you can take a group strength circuit class.
If you’re unsure of proper form, it’s best to start with a few one-on-one trainer sessions.
6. Keep Your Eyes On Your Diet
No fitness program works on its own. You can do all the physical activity you like, but if you’re feeding your body badly, you won’t see the same progress or health outcomes.
A healthy diet should center around these main factors:
- Eat plenty of fresh fruits and veggies: These unprocessed, healthy foods should fill over half of your plate. Lean on dark green, red, and orange veggies. Eat whole pieces of fruit rather than drinking fruit juice. That way, you’ll get the fiber and not just a concentration of fruit sugars.
- Focus on whole grains: Switch from refined-grain (white grain) foods to whole-grains like whole wheat, brown rice, buckwheat, oatmeal, quinoa, or wild rice.
- Cut the fat, but not all of it: Cut trans fats that increase “bad” cholesterol and reduce “good” cholesterol as found in baked goods, frozen pizza, fried foods, and non-dairy creamers. Then stock-up on monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats found in nuts, avocados, olive oil, and fish.
- Power yourself with healthy proteins: Think lean meats, poultry, seafood, beans, and soy products.
- Limit processed foods with added sugars: Such as sugary snacks and sodas, which are full of empty calories and can raise your blood sugar.
- Limit salt: Too much can raise your risk of high blood pressure.
- Limit alcohol: Have no more than one alcoholic drink a day.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate: Choose water over juice and other sugary drinks.8
7. Have An Accountability Team
Finally, if you’re really struggling to find a higher level of motivation to exercise, an accountability team or person can be life-changing. There are a few great ways you can do this.
- Join a sports team: Team sports are super motivating, and you’ll let the entire team down if you don’t show up. They’re also really fun, and you may just forget you’re working out. Some great team sports include: basketball, soccer, dodgeball, hockey, kickball, volleyball, or softball.
- Find a buddy: A workout buddy is motivating for the same reasons – they hold you accountable for showing up to meet them. Find a friend, or someone you know at the gym, and see if they’d be keen for you to work as an accountability team.
- Join a small gym: There are a lot of small, personalized gyms out there today where everybody gets to know each other. Schedule yourself for the same classes each week, with the same instructor, and the same class buddies. You’ll start to feel like you’ll be missed if you don’t show. Plus, you’ll enjoy the camaraderie.
Fitness Tips For Women: Make A Plan Today
Your health and wellness should be a priority in your life. Not only will you look and feel better, but you’ll be setting yourself up for a “fit future.”
You’ll also be supporting your immune system. A healthy lifestyle is the very best way to keep your immune system strong. And, strong immunity means a healthier life.9 That’s beautiful synchronicity.
So, isn’t it time to get that plan in place?