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Exercise Tips for Women Over 50

If you were physically active regularly before hitting 50, you're at an advantage: You probably already follow these exercise tips. But if you didn't exercise regularly, it's not too late to start.

For women over 50, regular physical activity may help tame some of the symptoms of menopause -- hot flashes, joint pain, anxiety, depression, and sleep problems. Exercise also reduces heart disease risk, osteoporosis, and diabetes risk; helps control weight; -and even melts belly fat.

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That's why, if exercise could be bottled, everyone would take it. The effects of exercise are so potent that it influences every physiological system in the body for the better.

Many difficulties of aging are linked to an inactive lifestyle. And while your chronological age may be 55, your biological age can be 35 -- if you follow a consistent exercise program.

Ready to start? First, check with your doctor. If you're over age 40, or have risk factors for heart disease (smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or family history), it's especially important that you see a doctor first.

Basic Exercise Tips

A complete fitness program must include aerobic exercise, muscle strength conditioning, and stretching for flexibility.

  1. Aerobic exercise: Walking, jogging, and dance-exercise are good forms of aerobic exercise. They work the large muscles in your body, which benefits your cardiovascular system -- and your weight. Work up to getting 20 or more minutes per session, three or four days a week. Exercise at a pace that lets you carry on a conversation -- what's known as the "talk test."
  2. Strength training: Lifting hand weights improves your strength and posture, reduces the risk of lower back injury, and also helps you tone. Start with a hand weight that you can comfortably handle for 8 repetitions. Gradually add more reps until you can complete 12.
  3. Stretching: Stretching exercises help maintain flexibility and range of motion in joints. They also reduce the risk of injury and muscle soreness. Yoga and Pilates are good forms of stretching exercise; they build core body strength and increase stability.

Find Reasons to Exercise

Another exercise tip: Every little bit of movement counts, so move, if even a little. If you're too busy for a regular workout, just look for opportunities to be in motion. Research shows that a significant number of health benefits come from all those extra steps you take during a day's time.

A few more fitness tips and "moving" ideas:

  • Adopt a dog and take it for walks every day.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator. At home, don't shout up the stairs -- go on up.
  • Get up and talk with co-workers, rather than sending emails. Have a meeting with one or two workmates; go outside and make it a walking meeting.
  • Walk briskly whenever you can.
  • Find a sport, game, or activity you enjoy. Take tennis lessons, for example.

If you're traveling, take your walking shoes with you. With comfortable shoes, your feet can be your main mode of transportation.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood, MD on February 21, 2013
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