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Working out is important for women and men of all ages. However, there are four general workouts that can be especially beneficial for women over the age of 50. These workouts protect against injury, encourage a healthy heart, burn fat, and preserve muscle. Learn more and build a fun and effective workout routine for yourself!

1. Static Stretching

It's important at any age to stretch prior to a work out in order to prevent against a possible injury. You can modify stretches and stretch to your comfort level to avoid strain or risk pulling and/or tearing a muscle. There are three main ways to engage in a stretch:

  • Static stretch: stretching a muscle for at least 30 seconds and experiencing mild discomfort.
  • Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF): hold a stretch while contracting and relaxing your muscles.
  • Dynamic stretch: stretching with repetitive, yet gentle movements such as arm swings.

The most highly recommended and researched stretching technique is the static stretch.

2. Pre-training Warm Up

No matter what age or gender you are, it's important to warm up before a workout. A great warm up helps you perform better during your workout and helps prevent injury by getting blood flowing, clearing waste from the muscles, and bringing fluid to the joints.2 A few fun and effective ways to warm up before a workout include:

  • Jumping rope
  • Yoga positions
  • Stationary bike
  • Treadmill walk
  • Foam rolling

3. Weight Training

As people age they begin to lose muscle mass and strength. Adults begin to lose up to 10 per cent of muscle mass per decade after the age of 30.There is a myth that has circulated for years that women shouldn't weight lift because they will become "bulky".

A study published in Medicine & Science in Sports show that women who lifted a challenging weight for eight reps burned nearly twice as much as women who did more reps with less weight.

Participating in strength training exercises that target all major muscle groups can help maintain and rebuild this muscles loss. Use free weights and machines at least twice a week and customize specific workouts to your activity level, strength, and ability. A few recommended exercises include:

  • Squats: Engages the back (erector spinae), the butt (gluteus maximus), the hamstrings, and the quadriceps.
  • Lunges: Enagages the butt (gluteus maximus), the hamstrings, the quadriceps.
  • Pushups: Engages pectoral muscles, deltoid muscles, biceps, triceps, and upper back (latissimus dorsi, rhomboids and trapezius).
  • Planks: Engages core muscles (transverse abdominus, rectus abdominus, and obliques).
  • Overhead dumbbell presses: Engages front shoulder (anterior deltoid), middle shoulder (medial deltoid), back shoulder (posterior deltoid), biceps, and triceps.
  • Bicep curls: Engages different parts of the biceps (biceps brachii, brachialis, brachioradialis) and the shoulders.

4. Aerobic Workout

Yet another myth that was once widely held was that women should focus mainly on cardiovascular workouts to lose weight. Cardiovascular activity and/or aerobic activity is better applied in shorter 20-30 minutes periods and best applied as high intensity interval training (HIIT).

Aerobic activity is an important workout because it encourages cardiovascular health, increases the body's metabolism, positively contributes to heart health, and supplies oxygen and energy to your entire body.

Aerobic exercise also releases natural painkillers, endorphins, to increase your sense of well-being. Best of all, they are really fun! A few of the best aerobic activities for your health include:

  • Cross-country
  • Aerobic Dancing (Zumba)
  • Swimming
  • Stair Climbing
  • Cycling
  • Elliptical training
  • Rowing
  • And much more

 Build a Routine

Build your own workout routine and start having fun with your healthy lifestyle. Make time for three strength training days, two cardio days, and two rest days per week. Each strength training workout should be approximately 45-60 minutes and each cardiovascular workout should total to no more than 150 minutes per week. Join a class, try free weights, or go for a run. Ensure that you find a workout that works best for your body.

Sources:

  1. NHS. "Do I need to stretch before exercising?" NHS Choices. Retrieved from http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/Pages/Do-I-need-to-stretch-before-or-after-a-run-or-sports-and-exercise.aspx
  2. Brown, Rashelle (2015). "The Best Diet and Exercises for People Over 50." Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/202601-the-best-over-the-counter-diet-pills-for-women/
  3. Yeung, A (2015). "Bulletproof your Body: The Ultimate Warmup." Muscle and Fitness. Retrieved from http://www.muscleandfitness.com/workouts/workout-tips/bulletproof-your-body-ultimate-warmup?page=2
  4. Women's Health (2012). "Lift more, lose more." Retrieved from http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/lift-heavy-weights
  5. Mayo Clinic. "Aerobic exercise: Top 10 reasons to get physical." Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/aerobic-exercise/art-20045541
  6. Tucker, Alexa (2016). "Here's what a perfect week of working out looks like." Self. Retrieved from http://www.self.com/story/heres-what-a-perfect-week-of-working-out-looks-like
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