How to protect your health with regular exercise

As we get older, diet and exercise is more important than ever.

Most of us know how important healthy eating and regular exercise is. But as we get older, it’s about more than just staying trim. Regular exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of joint and back pain, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and other conditions.

In this article, we’ll examine the major benefits exercising offers and the best exercises for you, particularly during and after menopause.

Benefits of regular exercise

Increased metabolic rate

As women get older, the rate of metabolism begins to slow down. This becomes more noticeable around the age of 40. This is why it is easier to lose weight in your 20s than in your 40s. However, adequate exercise, especially strength training, can help increase your metabolic rate. The more muscle you gain, the more calories you burn.

Muscle mass

Your muscle mass will naturally reduce with age. However, exercise is a way to restore and maintain it. An increased muscle mass will directly influence your quality of life positively. Increased muscle mass also leads to an increased metabolic rate.

Bone density

Bone density naturally decreases with age. Reduced bone density can increase the risk for bone fractures and restrict your mobility. Resistance exercises have been known to help increase and maintain bone mass and density.

Hormonal balance

Research has shown that exercise can improve hormonal balance in women over the age of 40.

Better sleep

Exercise helps in improving sleep patterns and getting quality sleep.

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Reduced cancer risk

Women over the age of 40 have a higher risk of ovarian and breast cancer. According to a study from National Analysts Worldwide, exercise can lower progesterone and oestrogen levels in pre-menopausal women at high risk of cancer. Also, there have been studies that link a higher level of physical activity or exercise in middle-aged people with a lower risk of early death. All these and more show that adequate exercise is important for you.

Best types of exercises for women over 40

Resistance training

This can be defined as a type of exercise that involves an external resistance causing the muscles to contract, which then leads to increased strength, endurance, muscle mass, and improved muscle tone. Resistance training exercises include squats, pullups, and pushups, resistance training band exercises, Keiser machine exercises (pneumatic resistance), sled pushing, and water training exercises.

During these exercises, you move your body or limbs against the resistance created by gravity, resistance training bands (such as the hip circle band for women), weighted bars, dumbbells, exercise machines, or even your own body weight. Resistance training can help prevent arthritis, muscle loss and weakness. For women over 40, the most suitable resistance training exercises are squats, lunges, resistance band exercises, and other compound exercises. With time and as you gain more strength, you can then move to harder exercises.

Cardio exercises

Cardio workouts benefit your heart and your circulatory system in general. However, they offer other benefits as well. These include running, swimming, rowing, or other cardio exercises. During these, your heart rate becomes elevated and more blood flows to the muscles and joints.

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High impact activities

Activities such as running and outdoor sports can help keep your skeletal system strong.

Planks

Planks help to strengthen your core and can also help reduce back pain. A plank doesn’t require any equipment or much space to perform.

The core muscles of the body are exercised during this, and your midsection tightens. This provides more support to your lower back.

Stretching

Yoga and Pilates are examples of stretching exercises that can help maintain flexibility. Stretching also helps to ease muscle pain and cramps while loosening your joints. Static warm-ups can also help in elongating your muscles and increasing your range of motion. 

Free weight exercises

These can help build muscle mass and muscle endurance. Free weight exercises work the upper and lower body majorly. It is advisable to start with a comfortable weight before moving to heavier weights.

Mixing up your exercises can help keep you motivated so have a play around with what combinations work best for you.