The Best Exercises for Women in Their 40s and 50s

Turning forty may be one of the best things that will ever happen to you. One report published by The Economist found that many Americans see their overall happiness and life satisfaction sharply increase after turning 40. 

At the same time, your body begins a significant physical shift. Don’t be surprised if you feel a little different once you blow out those candles. But don’t despair either! Exercise can accommodate, alleviate, and even remedy some of the unwelcome side effects.

6 Ways Your Body Changes, and the Workouts You Need After 40

Of course, no amount of physical activity can stop us from getting older. Still, there’s plenty of evidence that proves that physical activity can increase life expectancy, limit the development and progression of chronic diseases, and help you feel (and look) amazing in your 40s and 50s.

Here are six shifts you may start to notice in your 40s and 50s and six exercises that are proven to help.

1. Your Metabolism May Start to Relax

Even if our routine doesn’t change over time, we lose muscle mass as we age. Losing muscle mass decreases the rate our bodies use calories, making it harder to keep weight off. If our lifestyle doesn’t adapt with age, it’s likely that we can start putting on extra pounds. Many women notice this shift in their 40s and 50s—their diet and exercise routines haven’t changed, but their waistline has! 

Increasing your activity can help fight back against belly fat, but one type of exercise will repair your metabolism.

Speed Up Your Metabolism by Maintaining Your Muscle Mass

Cardio burns more calories per session, but weight training helps you burn more calories over time. Just one strength training session will kick your body into burning mode temporarily. One study found that strength training results in a metabolism boost for up to 38 hours afterward. 

Weight training also helps you burn more calories long-term. Muscles are always in an active state of burning energy, so the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you’ll burn each day. Plus, strong bodies are less prone to injury, helping you stick with your health goals for the long run.

Try this Scalable Strength Session for a stronger metabolism.

2. You Might Start to Part Ways with Your Period

Perimenopause (the stage leading up to menopause when estrogen dips and your cycle become irregular) often starts in women between the age of 40 and 44. Its symptoms, like hot flashes, mood swings, insomnia, anxiety, and depression, can last a long time—up to 10 years for some women. 

Exercise is good for everyone. But if you’re perimenopausal or menopausal, being active can significantly improve your quality of life and ease some symptoms as you go through this transition. One workout, in particular, can help you sleep better, enhance your mood, and keep the weight off.

Manage Your Menopause Symptoms with Yoga

Stress has a massive impact on our sleep, moods, and weight. That’s why a relaxing and mindful practice like yoga can do wonders. Research shows that a consistent bedtime yoga routine can help you get in the right mindset and prepare your body to fall asleep and stay asleep. 

It’s also proven to increase mental and physical energy, boost enthusiasm, and decrease negative thoughts and feelings. Plus, higher cortisol levels can cause people to build up fat around their bellies. Learning to reduce stress through exercise and meditation can help you keep weight off in the long term. 

Try this Stress Melt Yoga Break to ease menopause symptoms.

3. You May Have Less Hair to Brush

Only a small percentage of women lose enough hair for others to see, but most women will notice that their hair feels thinner after 40. Women in their 40s may reach perimenopause, which causes estrogen (an important hormone for hair growth) to decrease. But exercise can combat hair loss, sending more nutrients and oxygen to your scalp and hair follicles. 

Certain exercises may prevent some forms of hair loss by improving blood flow to your scalp. An increase in blood flow means that more nutrients and oxygen are reaching your scalp, which can help nourish your hair follicles.

Improve Your Hair Health with HIIT

High-Intensity Interval Training is one of the healthiest exercises. It helps with stress management, beats belly fat, boosts metabolism, improves moods, and increases memory. But did you know it can nourish your locks? Because HIIT so effectively improves blood flow, more nutrients and oxygen reach your scalp and hair follicles too.

Try this No-Equipment HIIT Workout for luscious locks.

4. You May Laugh So Hard You Pee Yourself

Whether it’s your best friend retelling college stories or your kids putting on a silly play, your life may become too happy for your bladder to handle. If you’ve had children, your pelvic floor might be weaker than it was in your 20s. Additionally, estrogen loss during perimenopause weakens the muscles that support the bladder and the urethra. 

When the muscles are weakened, any abrupt clenching of the diaphragm (like when you cough, sneeze, or laugh) can lead to leaks. Certain core exercises, though, can help rebuild those deep supportive muscles so that you can stay in the living room to watch act two. 

Beat Leaks By Boosting Your Pelvic Floor

Thousands of women suffer from pelvic floor dysfunction, postpartum back pain, and incontinence. But age and motherhood do not have to come with these negative side effects. Strengthening your inner core muscles (called transverse abdominis) and pelvic floor muscles can solve these symptoms and tighten your core significantly.

Try these 3 Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy Exercises you can do from home.

5. You May Forgive and Forget More Easily

We, women, have estrogen receptors in two areas of our brains that control memory. When there’s less estrogen (due to perimenopause), these areas change. As a result, you might forget things more quickly and forgive more easily.

Brain fog does not have to have the last word. And in actuality, your brain will adapt to lower estrogen levels and bounce back after menopause. In the meantime, there’s something you can do. 

Studies over the years have suggested that a single workout can improve recall and that engaging in regular exercise over the course of years or decades not only improves memory, but also helps fortify against future memory problems.

Beat Brain Fog and Forgetfulness with a Brisk Walk

Not all exercise improves memory equally. The intensity of the exercise plays an important role in bolstering your recall. Your brain’s operational efficiency is largely dependent on the amount of oxygen provided to it by your bloodstream. Vigorous exercise will boost brain function, including your recollection.

One recent study found that participants who regularly exercised more intensely (like running, taking a brisk walk, or completing a HIIT workout) were more likely to perform better on spatial memory tasks. Another study followed up on 300 older adults after 13 years. The researchers found that those who had walked six to nine miles a week lowered their risk of memory problems by 50 percent. 

Try this Pump Up Walking Playlist to pick up your walking pace and beat brain fog.

6. You Might Get to Try Some Fun New Lube

Sex might be the last thing on your mind these days, and there’s a biological reason why. As estrogen declines, it can lead to dryness, painful intercourse, and then a loss of desire altogether. 

But if you can find a sexual activity that you enjoy, the benefits range far and wide. Healthy sex within a loving relationship lowers stress, frustration, and loneliness. Sex lowers cortisol, gives us deeper sleep, enhances our metabolism, boosts endorphins, lowers blood pressure, and makes us look younger than we are! 

Organic coconut oil works great to keep things comfortable. Your doctor can also provide a topical estrogen ring, tablet, or cream. Additionally, some exercises can improve circulation to the area, which can boost both arousal and lubrication. 

Make Copulation More Comfortable with Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise increases your circulation, or blood flow, and helps ensure a healthy circulatory system. A strong blood flow is key for arousal. In women, it’s instrumental in how good sex feels for us. Better circulation means better sex.

Making sex more comfortable and enjoyable through exercise is a gift that keeps on giving. Sex boosts your body’s health. The healthier you are, the better the sex. Plus, it’s counts as a workout! Sex burns a lot of calories—about 150-250 per half hour.

Try this Heart Pumping Total Body Workout to spike your sexual desire.

Slow the Clock with These 6 Exercises

Aging is inevitable, but exercising can make us look and feel great throughout our 40s and 50s. 

Want to fit in all six workouts this week? Try this schedule: 

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