Over the past 100 years, research has been plentiful when it comes to exercise prescription and performance. Unfortunately, nearly all of that research was done on young, healthy, college-age men.
Age, gender, hormones, and general wellness play a huge role in whether your body responds positively or negatively to a certain exercise. The activities I performed in my 20's no longer energize me and the training I do today will probably no longer work to shed stubborn fat a decade from now.
But don't think that just because of your age, weight, or any health issues that your body, fitness, and metabolism are doomed. With proper nurturing, your female body can be quite powerful no matter your age.
Exercise is an essential part of this journey to "good health" and vitality. But, it's important to consider a number of factors before starting a fitness program. Ask yourself the following questions to guide you in choosing the right dose and intensity of exercise for your body.
1. Are your hormones in balance?
Although a good one, exercise is still a stressor on the body. This stress will impact sex hormone balance (estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone), insulin, and the stress hormone cortisol. If any of these are already out of balance, it will affect your exercise performance. When struggling with hormone balance, it is often best to perform low impact exercise and incorporate restorative practices such as yoga and pilates.
2. Are you under a lot of stress?
When the stress of exercise is added to everyday life, the body may release too much cortisol. This hormone can disrupt sleep, irritate your mood, and slow the metabolism. The problem is, we often don't recognize when we are under a lot of stress. Your cortisol levels may be working against you if you require caffeine to get started in the morning, you have periods throughout the day of feeling anxious or wired, or you need alcohol to quite your mind at night. Deep breathing exercises can go a long way in decreasing stress hormone levels.
3. Are you eating and absorbing adequate nutrients to support her exercise program?
Females at any age involved in fitness are at risk for common nutrient deficiencies, such as low protein, low iron, low calcium, and low vitamin D. This may be the case if you are experiencing hair loss, brittle nails, eczema, or food cravings. When participating in an exercise program over 40, be sure your diet is full of a wide range of nutrients paying special attention to iron, zinc, omega 3 fatty acids, selenium, folate, biotin, and antioxidants. This also means eating enough nutrients, especially when cutting calories in an attempt to lose weight.
4. Are you absorbing nutrients adequately?
Many active women are consuming proper nutrients and frustrated they aren't experiencing the positive side effects. This is often because those nutrients aren't being well absorbed by the body. This can be due to increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut), small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or chronic inflammation. If your body isn't well nourished due to any of these factors, you need to work on addressing those or you will be unable to sustain intense exercise over time.
5. What do you enjoy doing for exercise?
Perhaps the most important consideration for exercise over 40 is to ask yourself what you enjoy. When you do a particular exercise gauge how you feel right after, two hours later, and then again the next morning. If you are feeling nourished and energized (even though you may be a little sore) you are on the right track. In contrast, if you feel depleted you need to reevaluate whether that is the best activity for you. Any movement activity should enhance your joy and well-being, not hinder it.
So do some investigating to find out how your body loves to move and listen to how it responds. Whatever the activity is, you absolutely want to be taking advantage of the benefits of exercise for women over 40:
- Better sleep
- Weight loss
- More energy
- Improved memory and concentration
- Muscle and bone strength
- Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke
- Mental health benefits
Are you doing all the "right things" and still not experiencing these amazing benefits?
If you need more guidance in the areas of exercise, weight loss resistance, stress, or nutrition learn more about our one-on-one Wellness Coaching Services by clicking the link below This framework includes the encouragement and accountability you need to thrive. We incorporate the best foods, the best workouts and the best relaxation and healthy living activities designed just for you.