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Over 40, Fit, and Ready to Bare Arms

From toned arms to trim ankles, celebs and other high-profile older women show off top physical forms. Why not the rest of us?

The Health Benefits of Being Fit at 40 and Beyond

Whether or not your workouts produce Obama or Madonna arms, pumping iron and engaging in cardiovascular conditioning after 40 has numerous health benefits, Bairey Merz says.

"If you are doing that work for your muscles, you are also helping your bones," she tells WebMD. "And you're helping your bones without drugs." Building bone density by weight training may delay or eliminate the need to go on the ''bone-building'' drugs often prescribed to prevent or reverse osteoporosis.

One health benefit of good arms -- as well as toned legs -- is ''you are not on the road to sarcopenia," Bairey Merz says. The age-related loss of muscle mass and strength can lead to lack of functioning in the everyday world, such as being able to pick up a bag of groceries or put a suitcase in an overhead bin of an airplane.

Tips for 'Regular' Women

Most 40-plus women don't have a trainer -- or endless hours to work out. Here, experts offer their best tips for "regular" women who can't squeeze in a two-hour daily workout.

  • Put the "work" back in workout. Miele observes exercisers at the gym who wonder why they aren't getting the results they want -- and in most cases they aren't taking the workout seriously. "They do two or three sets, then go talk to friends,'' he says. Or they do the same 20-minute workout on the elliptical trainer, counting calories but never increasing the intensity. He suggests combining cardio and strength training, such as alternating weights with the treadmill, and making each workout as ''dense'' as possible.
  • Try to work out first thing. "Do it before you check your email, before the kids get up," Miele says. "As each minute passes, too many variables come into play. Soon, you're saying, 'I'll do a double workout tomorrow.'''
  • If you can't afford a trainer, even for a session or two, consider a group class that focuses on cardio and toning, Miele says. Or buy a videotape. Cheapest option of all: find friends who want to achieve the same goals and head for the park together.
  • Think about what a toned body will bring you -- besides the right to go sleeveless. "Being able to put on a sleeveless shirt and feel confident is a good thing," Matthews says. But having a toned body isn't just about aesthetics, she says. Consider the improvement in functioning and strength such fitness brings, and being able to maintain that for years to come.
  • Squeeze in workouts. "Park 10 blocks away from work," Bairey Merz says. You then must fit in a 20- or 30-minute walk leaving your car and returning to it.
  • Develop other healthy habits that give you an automatic workout, Bairey Merz says, such as loading your own groceries into the car, taking the trash out yourself, and always bypassing elevators for the stairs.


Reviewed on September 03, 2011
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