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Healthy for Life: Fitness Needs for Every Decade of a Woman’s Life

Get moving: Fitness for women at any stage of life

Fitness for women: The 40s continued...

In your 40s, you are also more prone to injuries. So consider giving up high-impact activities - like jogging or aerobics. DiDio advises switching to low-impact programs such as Pilates or using a treadmill or stationary bike.

Fitness for women: The 50s

Menopause and post-menopausal symptoms usually surface in the 50s and often include weight changes, insomnia, high blood pressure, hot flashes, and stress. Research has shown that exercise, such as walking and yoga, can reduce the symptoms of menopause.

Because your flexibility drops in your 50s, DiDio says, stretching is increasingly important. Cardiovascular fitness is still necessary, but consider fitness activities with more "fun" potential, for instance dance classes, to keep from getting bored. And minimize your risk of injury by cross training.

"As you get older, you're more likely to injure a joint or muscle if you use it repetitively," says DiDio. Continue with cardiovascular exercise 20 or more minutes per session, three days a week, at a pace that lets you carry on a conversation. Lift hand weights for improved strength and posture. The right size weight is one that is comfortable for eight repetitions. Then build up to 12 repetitions. And remember to include flexibility and stretching exercises such as yoga.

Fitness for women: The 60s

Researchers have found that if you exercise in your 60s - even as little as once a week - you will live longer than those who don't exercise at all. So keep up with your cardiovascular activities, but make sure you emphasize strength training and core exercises to increase your stability.

As you get older, you want to avoid falls and the risk of bone fractures, which can become more prevalent. Yoga and tai chi, DiDio says, are good choices for improving both your flexibility and your balance.

Fitness for women: The 70s and beyond

Keep moving! Exercise for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, and continue to include cardiovascular, strength training, and flexibility exercises in your routine, says DiDio. Walking, swimming, light weights, tai chi, and yoga can all be good choices for women in their 70s as long as you have your doctor's permission. Be especially careful, however, of your balance. You want to avoid the risk of a fall.

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Reviewed on November 19, 2008

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