Healthy Habits for Women: The Ultimate Guide to Physical Activity Over 50

A Comprehensive Guide to Exercise for Women in Midlife

Tell me, how many different plans for starting an exercise program have you read or purchased?

That’s what I thought.

By the end of this post, you’ll will have a firm understanding of all things physical activity over 50 and how you can finally be get that strong, fit body you’ve been dreaming of.

Because health and fitness is such a loaded topic, we’ll be spending a lot of time together.

As a certified fitness trainer and lifestyle wellness coach, I have made it my mission to help women over 50 to finally ditch the weight loss rollercoaster and get fit for good.

So let’s dive into everything you need to know about physical activity over 50. There’s never a better time to start than now!

Psst…Want a quick way to get started exercising even if you’re a beginner? This 6-week beginner walking program guide so you can start right away? I have a downloadable PDF so you can do just that.

Whether you’re new to aerobic exercise and strength training, or you just have to go dig around for those leg warmers, the truth is that our bodies change as we age, and we need to adjust how we exercise accordingly.

As women over 50, we face challenges when it comes to exercising.

Whether it’s physical limitations, a lack of time or motivation, or concerns about safety, there’s no end to obstacles that can stand in your way. 

It’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed and unsure about where to start.

But the good news is that with the right guidance and support, anyone can become physically active and enjoy the many benefits that come with it.

Why Physical Activity is Important for Women Over 50

It’s super important to stay active as we get older, so I’m glad you’re thinking about starting an exercise routine. Physical activity is crucial for everyone’s health and well-being, and it’s never too late to start reaping its benefits.

Exercise helps you not only increase your lean muscle mass, but can help with your weight loss goals.

You can improve your cardiovascular health, keep your bones and muscles healthy, and reduce the risk of chronic health conditions, like diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.

Plus, it can boost your mood at the same time!

And, the best part? Staying active can help you remain independent, improve your quality of life, increase your energy levels, and continue to do the things you love.

So, don’t wait any longer. There’s no better time to start or continue an exercise routine. 

By prioritizing physical activity, you’ll be on your way to a healthier and more active lifestyle.

quote about physical activity and how important it is

Let’s do this!

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

What’s It All About?

Getting and staying fit over 50 is an incredibly important topic. In this post, we’ll take a deep dive into all the details about physical activity for women over 50.

You might be wondering what exercises are best for women at this stage in life or how to stay motivated. Well, don’t worry! I’ve got you covered. 

We’ll talk about the latest recommendations and all the amazing benefits of staying active. 

Things like improved cardiovascular health, healthy bones and muscles, reduced risk of chronic diseases, and a better mood.

woman holding a red yarn heart

And, you’ll find tips for overcoming obstacles and finding what works best for you. 

Whether you’re just starting out or looking to spice up your current routine, this post is here to give you the information and inspiration you need to get moving and feel great. 

So, let’s get started!


Physical Activity Recommendations for Women Over 50 

Guidelines From Health Organizations

So, what do the experts have to say about physical activity for women over 50? There are guidelines from reputable health organizations that can help you get started.

For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic exercise per week, in addition to muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days per week. 

That may sound like a lot, but it’s really just 30 minutes of moderate activity five days a week.

According to Tufts University, the physical activity recommendations for women over 50 are:

  • Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week.
  • Incorporate strength training exercises for all major muscle groups into your routine at least two days per week.
  • Do balance and flexibility exercises to maintain or improve your balance, flexibility, and mobility.
  • Consider adding activities that are fun and social, such as group fitness classes or dancing.
woman being physically active with yoga

It is important to talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise routine, especially if you have any health conditions.

The most important thing is to find an activity that you enjoy and that you can stick to, whether it’s walking, yoga, swimming, or anything else that you like. 

The key is to stay active and enjoy the benefits!

Be Sure To Consider Your Individual Factors

a graphic image of a woman curling a dumbbell

While health organizations provide general guidelines, just remember, everyone is different and what works for someone else may not work for you.

If you have any health conditions, like arthritis or heart disease, don’t forget to talk to your doctor before starting a new routine. They can help you figure out what’s safe and appropriate for you.

And don’t worry about starting slow, you should! You can gradually build up the intensity and duration of your workouts. And if you ever feel pain or discomfort during exercise, it’s a sign to take it easy or modify your routine.

The most important thing is to find an exercise routine that works for YOU. Take into account your unique needs, abilities, and health conditions. It may take some trial and error, but you’ll find something you love that keeps you active and healthy.

Benefits of Regular Physical Activity for Women Over 50

Are you ready to experience the numerous benefits that come with regular exercise? As a woman over 50, staying active is a requirement for your overall health and well-being. 

the book "younger next year"

From improving cardiovascular health to maintaining healthy bones and muscles, reducing the risk of chronic diseases, and enhancing mental health and reducing stress, the benefits of exercise are truly endless. 

In this section, we’ll take a closer look at each of these benefits and why they’re so important for women over 50. So buckle up, grab a pen and paper, and get ready to discover all the reasons why exercise really is the ultimate fountain of youth!

Improving Cardiovascular Health

One of the biggest benefits of regular exercise is its positive impact on our cardiovascular health. I know, it sounds kind of boring, right? I mean, we’re all about wanting to LOOK GOOD as we age! 

But stay with me, here, because hearth health may be boring, but it IS important.

When you engage in physical activity, your heart and lungs work harder, which helps to strengthen them over time. This can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke, two of the leading causes of death for women in middle age.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not have to deal with those, thank you very much.

But in addition to reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke, regular exercise can also help lower your blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, and increase circulation. 

a group of hearts graphic symbolizing the benefits of physical activity

All of these factors contribute to better overall cardiovascular health and a reduced risk of heart-related health problems.

So, whether you prefer a brisk walk, a yoga class, or a high-intensity interval training workout, incorporating physical activity into your routine can have a big impact on your heart health. 

And the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll give your heart the love and care it deserves!

Maintaining healthy bones and muscles 

Ladies, I know you’ve all heard about preventing osteoporosis, but it’s common for our bones and muscles to start losing their density and strength as we age. 

But the good news is, regular exercise can help counteract this natural decline

woman with healthy strong muscles holding dumbbell being physically active

Weight-bearing and resistance activities can help maintain and even increase the strength of your bones and muscles.

For example, weight-bearing activities like walking, hiking, and dancing help to strengthen your bones. Resistance training like weight lifting, yoga, and Pilates helps build and maintain muscle mass.

Including these types of activities into your exercise routine will go a long way toward helping you maintain your independence and mobility as you age, allowing you to continue doing the things you love for years to come. 

Reducing The Risk of Chronic Diseases

Again, who wants to think about this stuff, but regular exercise can also reduce the risk of other chronic diseases.

For example, regular physical activity can help regulate your blood sugar levels, which can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 

Exercise has also been shown to have a positive impact on the immune system, which can help protect against certain cancers.

So, by incorporating physical activity into your routine, you’re not only improving your overall health, but you’re also reducing your risk of developing chronic diseases.

That sounds like a win-win in my book!

Enhancing Mental Health and Reducing Stress

We all know that exercise is great for our physical health, but did you know it can also have a big impact on your mental well-being

Regular exercise has been shown to enhance mood, reduce anxiety and stress, and even improve memory and cognitive function.

For example, physical activity releases endorphins, which are the feel-good chemicals in your brain that can help improve our mood and reduce stress. It can also help you sleep better, and sleep impacts more than we ever imagined.

I don’t know about you, but if I don’t get enough sleep, it affects everything I do (and not for the better) the next day and beyond.

Incorporating physical activity into your routine can also provide a sense of accomplishment and boost your self-esteem, which is crucial for increasing confidence.

 Confidence is one thing that can be in short supply for women over 50 (ask me how I know).

Related post:

5 Ways To Build Confidence As A Woman

So, if you’re looking to improve your mental health and reduce stress, don’t overlook the benefits of exercise! Make sure you incorporate physical activity into your routine on a regular basis.

Look Better Naked!

Saved the best for last. In addition to all the amazing health benefits, regular exercise can also help you look and feel better in your own skin. As women over 50, it’s important to feel confident and comfortable in our own bodies, and exercise can help us achieve this.

For starters, regular physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, which can make us feel better about our bodies. It also improves your skin by boosting circulation and promoting a healthy glow.

infographic showing the benefits of physical activity for adults

In addition, exercise can help improve posture, making you look taller, slimmer, and more confident. It firms and tones  your muscles, giving a more toned and youthful appearance.

Finally, regular physical activity increases energy, which means you can keep dirt-biking with your partner, playing on the floor with your grandkids, or romping in the sack a few more times during the week. 😉

Not only can regular exercise help you stay healthy and reduce the risk chronic diseases, but it can also help you look like a million bucks in a little black dress. It’s a win-win!

Common Challenges and How to Overcome Them

Starting an exercise routine can be tough, especially when you’re over 50 and facing new challenges. 

But don’t worry, you’re not alone! Many women face similar obstacles when it comes to staying active. With a little bit of know-how and a few simple strategies, these challenges can be overcome.

Here we’ll explore some of the most common challenges faced by women over 50, including physical limitations, lack of time and motivation, safety concerns, and more. 

You’ll also find practical tips and strategies to help you overcome these challenges and get the most out of your exercise routine. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or unsure about where to start, this section is for you!

 a quote about motivation for physical activity

Physical Limitations

When it comes to starting an exercise routine, physical limitations can be a major concern. Things like arthritis, chronic pain, or a recent injury, can make it hard to even think about working out!

Or maybe you’re just feeling a bit stiff and unsteady on your feet. Whatever the issue, it’s important to remember that exercise doesn’t have to mean going full-tilt at the gym.

There are plenty of low-impact options that can be just as effective and much gentler on your body.

So, if you’re facing physical limitations, here’s what you can do:

  • Consult with your doctor. Before starting any new exercise routine, check in with your doctor and make sure you’re cleared for physical activity. They can also provide you with guidance and recommendations based on your specific health needs.
  • Focus on low-impact activities. Gentle activities like walking, swimming, and yoga are excellent options for women over 50 who are dealing with physical limitations. They’re low-impact, easy on the joints, and still provide a good workout.
  • Use modifications and assistive devices. If you’re dealing with a specific condition, like arthritis or a recent injury, there are often modifications and assistive devices that can help you stay active. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist to learn more about what might work for you.
  • Gradually build up intensity. If you’re new to exercise, it’s important to start slowly and gradually build up intensity over time. This will help reduce the risk of injury and give your body a chance to get used to the new demands being placed on it.

Remember, exercise is all about finding what works best for you. So, if you’re facing physical limitations, don’t be afraid to get creative and try new things until you find a routine that you love and that works for you.

Lack of time and motivation

I totally get it! Finding the time and motivation to exercise can be a real challenge, especially with a busy schedule and other responsibilities. 

But trust me, once you start, you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel and how much more energy you’ll have. Here are some tips to help you find the time and motivation to exercise:

  • Schedule it: Put your workout sessions into your calendar like any other important appointment. This way, you’ll be less likely to skip or reschedule.
  • Find a workout buddy: Having someone to exercise with can make all the difference. You’ll be accountable to each other and have someone to chat with during your workout.
  • Make it enjoyable: Choose an activity that you love, whether it’s walking, dancing, or yoga. The more you enjoy it, the more likely you are to stick with it.
  • Set achievable goals: Start with smaller, achievable goals and work your way up. Celebrate your successes along the way and keep building on your momentum.
  • Find inspiration: Surround yourself with positive and supportive people, read or listen to inspiring stories, and remind yourself of your goals and why they are important to you.

Remember, exercise is a long-term investment in your health and happiness, so make it a priority. You won’t regret it!

Safety Concerns

I know just starting an exercise routine can be overwhelming. Adding safety concerns on top of it can make it even more so. But don’t worry, there are ways to address these concerns and make your workout safe and enjoyable.

First and foremost, always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program. They will be able to give you specific advice based on your health and any medical conditions you have. 

They might also recommend a physical therapist who can work with you to design a safe and effective program.

a graphic about safety first when engaging in physical activity

It’s also important to use proper form and technique when doing exercises to avoid injury. 

Consider working with a trainer to make sure you’re doing the exercises correctly. 

Additionally, make sure to warm up and stretch before your workout and cool down and stretch afterwards.

If you’re concerned about the risk of falling, try starting with low-impact activities such as swimming, cycling, or walking. Invest in good quality walking or training shoes, with good support and cushioning, and make sure the surface you’re exercising on is safe and stable.

Remember, safety is key and taking these steps will help ensure you have a safe and enjoyable workout experience.

a graphic showing three different ways of being physically active while using cardio machines

Okay girlfriend, we’ve talked about the importance of physical activity and the challenges that come with starting an exercise routine. Now let’s dive into what types of exercise are recommended for women over 50. 

Remember that everyone’s needs are different. But there are certain types of exercise that can be beneficial for us as we age. 

So let’s take a look at what these are and how we can incorporate them into our routine.

1. Aerobic Exercise (also known as cardio)


Aerobic exercise is one of the best ways to improve your cardiovascular health. It gets your heart rate up, and you can have some fun while doing it! 

Whether you prefer a brisk walk, cycling, or swimming, there is no shortage of options when it comes to aerobic exercises. 

The important thing is to find an activity that you enjoy and that you look forward to doing.

When you find something that you love, you are much more likely to stick with it.

With cardio training, it’s important to remember that the goal is to get your heart rate up. You want to work up a sweat, but be able to breathe comfortably and talk while doing the exercise.

A good starting point for aerobics is to aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity most days of the week. 

You can also mix up your routine by trying different types of aerobic exercises to keep things interesting and challenging.

I love the following Youtube workout for beginners! It’s only 10 minutes long, and it’s a gentle, yet effective way to ease into low-impact exercise in the privacy of your home:

2.  Strength Training

Strength training is a crucial component of a well-rounded exercise program, especially for women over 50.

By maintaining and building muscle, you improve your overall strength, balance, and stability. You’ll also reducing the risk of falls and injuries. 

Not to mention, it also helps boost your metabolism, making it easier to manage your weight.

The great news is that you don’t need to join a gym or lift heavy weights to see results. Bodyweight exercises, resistance bands, and dumbbells are all effective and can be easily done at home. 

To get started, focus on proper form and start with lighter weights. As you get stronger, gradually increase the weight to challenge yourself. 

And, don’t be afraid to try different types of strength training exercises, such as squats, lunges, and push-ups, to keep your routine fresh and engaging. 

The key, as always, is to find a program that you enjoy and will stick with.

The following YouTube workout is a great place to start if you’re new to working with weights and/or strength training:

3. Balance and Flexibility

So, let’s chat about why focusing on balance and flexibility is so important for us as we get older. Falls can happen to anyone, and as we age, balance and coordination can decline, increasing the risk of falls. 

That’s why it’s important to include exercises that help improve balance and flexibility in our workout routine.

You don’t have to do anything too complicated! Something as simple as standing on one foot while brushing your teeth or doing a few yoga poses when you wake up can help get you started. 

Here’s a quick and easy routine you could try:
  1. Stand on one foot while brushing your teeth in the morning and evening.
  2. Do 10-15 minutes of yoga or tai chi in the morning or before bed.
  3. Stretch for 5-10 minutes every day, focusing on areas like your hips, hamstrings, and calves.

It’s a small investment of time each day, but the benefits of improved balance and flexibility are worth it!

A video for you to try at home:

4. Low Impact Exercises for Joint Health

Low-impact exercises are a fantastic choice for women over 50 who may be dealing with joint pain or arthritis. You can reduce strain on your joints, but still get an amazing workout.

A great place to start could be swimming, water aerobics, or even a leisurely walk in a pool. These types of exercises are kind on the joints, but still provide a great workout for the body.

If you don’t have access to a pool, don’t worry. There are plenty of low-impact exercises you can do right at home to help reduce joint pain and improve your fitness. Some great options include:

  • Pilates. This exercise is great for strengthening your core and improving balance, making it a low-impact way to stay in shape.
  • Yoga: Yoga is a great way to improve flexibility, balance, and stability. There are plenty of yoga routines available online that you can follow along with.
  • Walking: Walking is a classic, low-impact exercise that can be done anywhere, any time. If you don’t have access to a treadmill, simply head outside for a leisurely walk in your neighborhood or a nearby park.
  • Chair exercises: Chair exercises are a great option for those with limited mobility. Plenty of routines online are specifically designed for seniors, and they can be done right from the comfort of your own chair.

Remember to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise routine, especially if you have any underlying health conditions. But with these low-impact options, you’ll be well on your way to maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle, even in the comfort of your own home.

How To Determine the Right Exercise Frequency for You

Whew! After all that, are you ready to get started on your exercise journey?

Please remember that everyone is unique and what works for one person may not work for another. That’s why it’s important to determine the right exercise frequency that works best for you. 

Here we’ll talk about the importance of starting slowly, and getting the green light from your healthcare professional. In addition, we’ll set realistic goals, and gradually increase the frequency and intensity of your workouts. Let’s get started!

The Importance of Starting Slowly

Let’s dive into the topic of starting slowly when it comes to exercise. In a common scenario, you may have been an avid jogger or stepper years ago, but now you’re looking to ease back into a workout routine. 

That’s great! But it’s essential to start slowly and build up gradually, especially as you age.

Let’s look at Brenda, for example. Brenda used to be a jogger 20+ years ago, but she’s been inactive for a while and wants to ease back into cardio exercising. She also wants to add some strength training as she improves.

Starting slowly is key to reducing the risk of injury and ensuring that you can stick with your routine in the long term. 

For Brenda, this might mean beginning with a few minutes of walking or light jogging. Then she can gradually increasing the intensity and duration as she gets stronger and more comfortable. 

She could later add a few sets of bodyweight exercises or light weights for her strength training, adding more weight or reps as she improves.

This approach will not only help her avoid injury, but also allow her to enjoy her workouts and make steady progress. 

Starting slow is key to success when it comes to a sustainable exercise routine.

Be Sure To Check With a Healthcare Professional!

If you’re planning to jump back into a new exercise routine, it’s always a good idea to check in with a healthcare professional first. 

You want to be confident that your heart, joints, and bones are all in good shape for the types of workouts you have in mind.

Make sure you have a clear understanding of your health status, and what kind of exercise is safe and appropriate for you. 

Trust me, you’ll be glad you took this step!

The Importance Of Setting Realistic Goals

When it comes to exercise, setting realistic goals is crucial. 

Whether you’re looking to lose weight, improve your cardiovascular health, or simply feel better in your skin, having a clear and achievable goal can help you stay motivated and on track.

Let’s use our friend Brenda as an example. She had been a jogger for many years, but after a knee injury, she’s been out of the game for a while. 

Now, she’s ready to get back into exercise, but she wants to be smart about it. 

So, instead of jumping right back into running, she sets a realistic goal for herself: to walk for 30 minutes a day, three times a week.

But even this goal may be daunting for someone who hasn’t worked out for quite some time.

So, while her ultimate goal is to walk for 30 minutes a day, 3 times a week, that might sound overwhelming right now. 

Let’s break it down further into smaller, achievable goals.

To start, Brenda might aim to walk just 5 minutes a day, 5 days a week. This is a goal that is easily achievable and not too overwhelming. 

As she becomes more comfortable and confident with this, she can gradually increase the time and frequency. For example, after a couple of weeks, she can try walking for 7 minutes a day, 5 days a week. 

And then, the following week, she can aim for 10 minutes a day, 5 days a week. And so on.

By breaking her goal down into smaller, achievable steps, she’ll will be more likely to stick with it and eventually reach her target of walking for 30 minutes a day, 3 times a week. 

Every step toward your goal is a step in the right direction.

The key is to be patient, consistent, and not get discouraged. Every step toward your goal is a step in the right direction!

As Brenda becomes more comfortable with walking, she starts adding in some strength training, using light weights and focusing on her form. 

She’ll gradually increase the frequency and intensity of her workouts. After a few months, she’s back to jogging three times a week, and getting stronger too!

The moral of the story is this: setting realistic goals can help you stay motivated and see progress, without putting too much strain on your body. Or on your brain!

So, take some time to think about what you want to achieve, and set goals that are achievable and sustainable. 

Gradually Increasing the Intensity and Duration of Your Exercise

It’s rarely a good idea to just jump right into a strenuous new workout routine, as this can lead to injury or burnout. 

By gradually increasing the intensity and duration of your exercise you can make progress and avoid setbacks. 

Whether you’re starting a new aerobic routine or adding weight to your strength training exercises, listen to your body and make adjustments as needed. 

Here are some tips for increasing the intensity and duration of your workouts:

With aerobic exercise, start with shorter sessions and gradually increase the time spent exercising. For example, if you start by walking for 10 minutes a day, you can increase to 15 minutes the next week, 20 minutes the week after, and so on.

As for strength training, start with lighter weights and fewer reps and gradually increase both as you get stronger.If you’re using 5-pound dumbbells for bicep curls, you can increase to 8 pounds the next week, and 10 pounds the week after that.

Remember, the goal is to make progress, not to push yourself to the point of injury or burnout. So, listen to your body, be patient, and enjoy the journey!

Conclusion

Physical activity is incredibly important for women over 50, as it helps maintain cardiovascular health, improves balance and flexibility, and supports overall well-being. Regular physical activity has been shown to boost energy levels, improve mood, and even reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

I hope this in-depth post has provided you with valuable information and inspiration to prioritize exercise as part of your daily routine. 

Whether you’re starting from scratch or looking to build on your existing routine, it’s important to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts.

Remember to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise program, set realistic goals, and find activities that you enjoy to increase the chances of sticking with it. 

And don’t be afraid to try new things and switch things up! The key is to find what works best for you and make it a habit.

So go ahead and lace up your sneakers, grab a pair of weights, or head to your local pool. 

The benefits of exercise are endless, and the journey to better health and well-being starts with taking that first step.

If you liked this post, but wonder how you can keep the motivation going (or even get started), join the Fit Fabulous and Over 50 Facebook group! We’re there to encourage, offer support and accountability, exchange helpful tips, and discuss all things related to fitness for women over 50!

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