For women over 40 it is NOT the time to ignore fitness or let your health slide. It’s time to set aside some personal time for physical activity that should be part of your day, every day, to maintain a healthy body weight, feel stronger and more energized.

Unfortunately for women over 40, this is also the time your body begins to undergo a few annoying changes. You may notice that no matter how much you exercise, you are slowly accumulating body fat. While YOU are experiencing peak efficiency, your body is experiencing hormonal and metabolic changes. Over the next few years (and for the rest of your life) if you don’t make positive changes in your lifestyle, your weight gain will increase, you’ll begin to lose muscle mass, your metabolism will slow and your bones will become less dense and more brittle. These are the inevitable consequences of aging.

Taking steps to maintain your fitness and health today at 40 will greatly improve your chances of also being fit and healthy (and happy) at 50, 60 and beyond! Here are the three most important areas you should focus on:

fitness and health for women over 40

Diet for women over 40

  • If you haven’t started eating clean and reducing or eliminating processed foods and fast foods, now would be a good time. Healthy choices (whole, natural foods) support a healthy body. Additionally, as your metabolic rate slows as a result of the hormonal changes in your body, reducing your calorie intake will help prevent unwanted weight gain. Ensure that you eat foods containing lean protein, calcium, iron and the vitamins and minerals your body needs to prevent loss of muscle and bone mass. The focus of your diet should be healthier foods with fewer calories. Simple examples include eating more fruits and vegetables (complex carbohydrates) and less cake and donuts!

Exercise

  • Start with cardio. Running, swimming, spinning, etc. use large muscle groups that burn calories and get your heart beating and blood flowing. However, cardiovascular exercise alone isn’t enough. As you pass 40, your bones weaken and your muscle mass begins to fade. To delay or prevent this decline, you need resistance (strength) training. Regular strength training (weight lifting in the gym or bodyweight training at home) can prevent bone loss and may even add new lean muscle.

Resistance training can add new muscle mass which helps boost your metabolic rate for a greater calorie-burn while also decreasing your risk for osteoporosis, a bone destroying disease prevalent in women past age 40. Weight training and calisthenics also improve and maintain the flexibility of your joints and muscles and improve your balance.

Stress Management

  • Stress management is essential, yet often overlooked. Kids, teenagers, college tuition, work and marriage all add to your stress level and stress leads to stress hormones and often comfort food and emotional eating. Managing your stress can prevent weight gain, improve your immune system and mood and help your sleep better. Setting aside time for yourself is important so you can relax and relieve stress.

Fitness for women over 40 entails eating healthy foods in the proper amounts, regular cardiovascular and resistance training and stress management.

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