fitness

  • Working out at 50, dos and don’ts

    You want to work out and you are in your 50s or 60s!!! Wonderful. Let’s talk about the dos and don’ts, what works and what doesn’t. Working out in your fifties, as everything else in life, has dos and don’ts. Generally, people will say working out after 50, but I find that this is too general. A 50 year old woman or man is very different than an 80 year old person, their work out programs are very different. The definition after 50 is already changing and it will continue to change because it is putting all people after 50 in the same bucket and that doesn’t work out (pun intended).

    Working out after 50 Dos

    Do work out in your 50s and beyond

    This is the most important thing we can say. Working out or being active is imperative for our wellbeing, physical, mental as well as emotional. Working out in our 50s is not about looking good, that is a side effect, but is about physical and mental health.

    Do check with your doctor

    If you take medications for high blood pressure, you are diabetic or you have any other medical condition, you have to check with your doctor. As a personal trainer I ask for medical clearance if the client takes medicines. Some medicines affect the way you will respond to exercise. For example, some high blood pressure medicines are diuretics and that means that if the person sweats a lot, he or she needs to drink more water than someone who doesn’t take this type of meds or there could be dehydration and/or loss of electrolytes.

    Do disclose your illnesses to the trainer

    If you are going to work out with a personal trainer or in a gym, do disclose your medical history. This will help the trainer or the gym to advise you in what to do and/or what to avoid. Normally the gyms have orientation sessions and this information will be very valuable to help you develop the best workout program for you, to maximize results and to avoid injuries and unnecessary risks.

    Do go slow

    As we age our bodies take longer time to recover and the risks of injury are higher. We ladies in our 50s and beyond need more time to develop stamina, muscle strength, flexibility and balance. We need more time to rest between workouts and we need more time to increase weights and number of repetitions. In cardio, we need to start with less time and less intensity. In yoga, Pilates, Barre and similar modalities, we need to start with less stretching. It is safer and more pleasant to start slow and progress slow. Slowly but surely is the way to go.

    Do listen to your body

    You are the expert on your body. Your body will tell you if you are doing too much. It is good to push yourself, but never to the point of injury. Let me repeat “go slow,” push yourself only a little bit at the time. You can reach similar levels of a 20 years old, but it will take longer and it will take more effort, and for many people it is possible, not for all.

    Do stay committed to your work out

    If you stay committed and work out 3 or more times a week you will see results. It is better to do shorter workouts frequently than longer workouts once a week.

    Do vary your workouts

    Our body is amazing and it adapts very easily to the exercises. When this happens, it starts to use less calories. In order to burn more calories and avoid injury you need to vary the workouts regularly.

    Do warm up

    When working out after 50 we need a lot warm up time (or at least 5 minutes). In particular when we are starting to work out after a period without workouts. Warming up prepares your muscles, your nerves and your mind; it helps to avoid injury and to do the exercises in a better form.

    Do cool down

    Cooling down is also important. It helps the body slowly lower the heart palpitations, the muscles don’t have to stop at once and your mind can calm down. Don’t skip this step.

    working out after 50 tips

    Working out at 50 don’ts

    Don’t stop working out

    When it comes to working out, consistency is the most important thing. If you stay committed you will see results. Put the work out time in your schedule and try to stick to it. If you don’t like working out then read the next tip.

    Don’t do boring or too difficult workouts

    There are a zillion ways to work out, try different workout programs to find the one that is best for you.

    Don’t do only cardio

    Cardio is great for your heart and to burn calories, but we also need strength training, flexibility and balance. Try to include all of them in your workouts. You don’t need to do all of them in the same workout, but try to have a program that includes all of them at least once a week. Strength training is recommended at least 2 times a week and it can be combined with cardio, flexibility and balance.

    Don’t take too much risk

    Working out in your 50s is for most people different than working out in your 20s. As time passes we become more vulnerable to injury and it takes longer to heal. Besides that we can have conditions such as weaker bones and not be aware of it. For these and other reasons we need to start slow and avoid exercises that include a lot of jumping, too much stretching, lifting heavy weights, etc. Jumping in general is something to think about, few people after 50 respond well to it. The stretching levels and the weights lifted can be developed, but it will take time for most 50 year olds.

    Don’t do too little

    If you do a work out and you feel like taking a light walk, you probably are not working hard enough. Some of the so called exercises for people over 50 in reality are for seniors, over 50 is just the name. YOU define YOU, don’t let anybody put labels on what you can and cannot do. Start slow, start at your level, listen to your body and continue adding variety and difficulty to your workout. You want to always challenge the body a little. If you do too little you risk quitting the program because you won’t see the results you want.
    There are great programs that anybody can follow. They don’t have to be specially directed to 50 year olds.

    A personal note about over 50

    I got my personal training certification when I was in my 50s, so I was pretty upset when they described what they called “special populations,” among them children, pregnant women and people after 50. Yep, it doesn’t matter if we are 50 or 100 we are all the same for personal training purposes. This is, of course, absurd. Even if we divide it by decades, some people in their 70s are fitter than some 20 year olds.

    Don’t get frustrated

    There are variations for all exercises. A new routine is always challenging. If you cannot do an exercise, try to modify it, it is OK. If a class is too long make it shorter, don’t force yourself. Remember, listen to your body. You will improve and you will find your sweet spot when working out. Your workout program has to work for you, not the other way around.

    Don’t rush

    Focus and control. Be mindful of every exercise. This way you will get better results and avoid injury. Better results because you will focus on the muscles you are trying to work.
    When we don’t pay attention to the exercises, many times we do the exercise wrong and we put too much pressure on other muscles. An example of this is crunches, if we don’t focus on using the abdominal muscles we end up using the lower back. The lower back is very sensitive to injury. If we do squats and don’t focus we can overextend the knees causing damage to the cartilage and lots of pain. If we do some triceps (back of the upper arm) we can end up working the biceps (front of the upper arm) this will result in muscle imbalance. Besides, strong triceps improve, avoid, or correct the famous batwings in the upper arms.

    Don’t do challenges designed for younger people

    A lot of challenges, some of them on Instagram, are badly designed, they are not good at any age and terrible for people who don’t exercise frequently. For example, push up challenges. Usually they start with a few pushups a day and keeping adding every day. The people who participate in these challenges keep pushing themselves, but they don’t do the exercises properly. This can lead to injuries, unnecessary pains and not so good results.

    If you cannot do the regular push-ups, you can start with modifications such as wall push-ups, counter push-ups, sofa push-ups, knee push-ups and finally graduate to the regular push-ups which require a lot of upper body and core strength. If you are doing on of those challenges and are just starting to workout you will hit a wall and may injure yourself. It is better to start where you are and build up from there. I have a push-up challenge for people starting to work out (at any age). If you just follow a challenge there are other risks such as lack of warm up and lack of cool down.

    Don’t buy in the hype

    If you are in my age bracket or close to it, you have seen many workout fads. Just like diets, there are also workup fads. It is OK to try them and follow them if you like them, but you don’t have to follow them. The traditional ways of working out work, you don’t need special equipment, more videos, etc.

    Don’t think you need a lot of time and money

    You can start in your house with YouTube videos or lower price apps. You don’t need to spend a lot of money. Time? Well, if you don’t have 30 minutes do as little as 20, but it’s better to do something than nothing.
    Do you need a gym? If time and/or money are scarce you can work out at home. I work out at home most of the time, because it is more time effective for me.

    Do you need a personal trainer? It is very nice to have guidance, but you don’t necessarily need one. Especially if you don’t have special needs. Remember there are trainers at different prices.
    Do you need the Peloton? It is a great machine, but you don’t need to spend that kind of money if you don’t have it or want to spend it. It is nice to have a cardio machine at home, but they also come in all price ranges. I think a treadmill is better than a bike because you get a more complete workout.

    In the beginning is better to avoid long term costly commitments.

    Don’t follow “no pain no gain”

    When working out there will be some pain in the beginning, but you don’t have to be in pain all the time. You may experience strong pain if you are working out too much, too hard or wrong. It is better to do a lighter workout than to quit because the pain is too much. For a workout to be effective, it doesn’t need to be painful.

    Have fun

    If you don’t like working out (most of us don’t) try to make it more fun, even if in the beginning you have to lie to yourself and tell yourself that you like to work out. Fake and fake it until you make it, it works when working out.

    Working out is too important for our health. Even if we don’t like it, we have to do it. So if we can convince ourselves that is not so bad that will help.

    For some motivation this is what the spectacular Jane Seymour (born in 1951) said in a recent interview:

    “I try to get my heartbeat up with fast walking at least three times a week.” “I also work out with a trainer and I’ll do about 20 minutes on a stationary bicycle, the spin bicycle, but not spinning like crazy. I do my own form of it, usually with weights, as well. So I try to do the upper body at the same time as the lower body. And then I do Pilates and Gyrotonics, which I swear by.”

    “So, things that are really good for my particular body, like the bridge and plank, I can do anywhere in any hotel room or anywhere at any time. I don’t need to go to the gym to do the things that are actually really good for my body. And having been a dancer, you have an understanding of form. So when you work out, I think you are very careful about having good form. Whereas some people just throw themselves in the gym. If you don’t have proper form, you can injure yourself.”

    If you need further inspiration check out this 80+ lady on Tiktok https://www.tiktok.com/@erikarischko?

    There are many more dos and don’ts but this article is already long, so we will leave it here. If you have questions or want to share a story please leave it in the comments. And let me ask you, what type of exercises are your favorites?

  • Why do we gain weight during menopause?

    No doubt gaining weight is easy, but during menopause even the skinniest people add on some pounds, especially around the tummy. In the past everything was blamed on hormones, but that has changed. The reasons for menopausal weight gain are complex. Let’s take a look at some of them:

    Calories add up

    Through the decades of our lives most of us gain a little weight every year. Little by little it becomes more noticeable.

    Drug effects

    Many drugs cause weight gain. Some of the worst are anti-depressants and antibiotics. Antibiotics are now part of our normal food; they are fed to animals so they become fatter. Even some vegetables contain tiny amounts of antibiotics because animal manure or feces get in contract with the vegetables.

    Our gut bacteria is affected

    Our gut bacteria is fundamental to controlling weight. During midlife the gut bacteria is under a lot of pressure caused by antibiotics, stress, hormonal changes, and others. (Read gut bacteria during menopause).

    Lack of muscle

    As we age and don’t work out, we lose muscle. With muscle loss we need less calories to maintain our body so the extra calories go to our fat reserves. In other words, our metabolism slows down.

    Weaker organs

    By midlife some of our vital organs are tired or overwhelmed. We are surrounded by toxins and have not-so-healthy eating habits that affect our liver and thyroid. We have a ton of stress that affects our adrenal glands and some mindset habits affect the whole body. If the liver and/or adrenals are not working properly that will further affect our thyroid. This will have a direct negative effect on our weight, energy levels, mental clarity, happiness, hot flashes, etc.

    Combination factors for weight gain

    Some menopausal symptoms such as insomnia alter our gut bacteria and this causes weight gain. On top of that we don’t have enough energy during the day and move less. Some people suffer from depression during menopause and tend to eat a poor diet. This and other causes create the perfect storm for weight gain.

    Stress at midlife

    Stress causes weigh gain in most people. Many people resort to calorie-rich foods such as sweets, carbohydrates, fats and alcohol during stressful periods. For many women these are years of changes or personal dissatisfaction that result in stress, sadness, and worrying a lot. Stress creates many hormonal issues that contribute to weight gain. (Read stress in menopause)

    Menopausal weight gain is different than previous weight gains

    This is something that shocks many women. During perimenopause and menopause we don’t only gain weight, our body shape changes. We accumulate weight around our tummy and in the back. Belly fat is the main characteristic of menopausal weigh gain. In some women the breast may also grow, in others the contrary happens.

    The worse type of weight gain

    Belly fat is not good news. Belly fat is associated with heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and other illnesses.

    Menopausal weight loss is totally possible

    Weight loss is always challenging because it requires habit changes. Menopausal weight loss can be more challenging because there is no one size fits all diet, or no calories-in-calories-out. Our hormones and gut bacteria are different and are stopping us from losing weight. And as always there are a lot of diet options and misinformation and selecting the right choice is not easy. Totally not fair, but do not worry menopausal weight loss is possible.

    How to lose weight in midlife?

    The first thing that many women (including myself) find out is that the diets that used to work so well, do not work anymore. It is important to understand the causes of weight gain in midlife, because this makes it clear that it is not only a matter of a diet; we also need to:

    Control stress, eat healthy, eat nutritious food, be happy, sleep well, etc. And the hormones? We also need to balance our hormones. Fortunately the same things that help us balance the hormones and strengthen our organs help to lose weight and to have a happier life. If we see the whole picture:

    During midlife, our bodies are calling us to live a fuller, more meaningful life, to live every moment and protect our bodies.

    That is the gift of menopause, an invitation to live a better life during our second half, or as it’s called in Chinese medicine “second spring.” Spring is a time of re-birth and awakening.

    Xassy

    To lose weight during perimenopause and post menopause we need a gentle reset. Good news, it is possible, more good news, it will improve your total health.

    At this time more than a diet we need some lifestyle changes. I lost weight doing just that and you can do it too.

    That is our motivation during midlife. Weight control is not about vanity, it is about health and quality of life. We are improving and protecting our current and future health, both physical and emotional, by learning to control our weight.

    This is a series of articles in which I will share how you can lose weight during perimenopause and post menopause. Next article: Intermittent fasting to lose weight in menopause


  • You Will Want to Know these 3 Easy Exercises For Firmer Butt And Better Sex

    What do you do when you are lining up in the supermarket? Check your phone? In addition to this, you can do three awesome exercises that will help you to keep your butt firm, your tummy flat and your pelvic floor strong so there are no leaks and sex is better.

    exercises women over 50

    These exercises are very simple, you are not going to break a sweat with them, they are discreet and they deliver good results if you do them often. Here they are:

    Contract the tummy

    This will strengthen your abdominals, your core. This is very important because it will help you to keep good posture, to created more room for your vital organs and your tummy will keep firmer and smaller. A strong core is the foundations of any good exercise program and this exercise can help you get there.

    This is how to do it: stand up straight, not military-style but normal posture. Lightly contract your belly, imagine that you are pulling in your belly button. This is not a big push, it is a light contraction. Now also pull in the upper abdomen. Hold the position for as long as you can while breathing normally, repeat 3 times.

    Practice this position as many times a day as you remember. You will start seeing results after a few days. It will not give you a flat tummy, but your core will be firmer and your posture will be better. Remember good posture, less pain, and you will look slimmer.

    Contract the butt

    This will help to firm up the butt. Stand up straight as in the previous exercise. Concentrate on your butt. Imagine that you are holding a pencil between the two butt cheeks and you cannot let it fall down. Hold the position for a few seconds and let it go, repeat a few times. You may not get JLo’s butt, but it will help to firm up your butt.

    easy exercises for women during menopause

    Sexy Kegels

    This is important for women after labor and in midlife. Our pelvic floor tends to get flaccid just like any other muscle. The muscles in our pelvic floor help us hold the urine. If these muscles get loose, we can have leaks. To avoid this is fairly easy, Kegels are some of the easiest exercises to do.

    Kegels can be done standing up or sitting/laying down. You probably know how to do them, but just in case: Contract the pelvic floor as if you would do it to stop the pee or urine flow, hold for a second or two and release, repeat at least 5 times. A more flexible and stronger pelvic floor helps us to have better sex.

    Bonus: Standing calf raise

    If you are wearing sneakers and you have been walking or moving you can do this easy exercise. It helps to strengthen your calves, stretch your legs and feet and increase circulation. It is super easy and very effective if done often.

    Try to stand up straight. This is just like standing on your toes. Push through the balls of your feet and raise your heels until you will be standing on your toes. Then slowly lower the heels and return to the starting position. Repeat 5 times.

    Do you have other exercises that can be done while standing up washing dishes or lining up in the office or supermarket?

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  • Why I stopped going to the gym and maybe you should too

    I don’t have time. Do you have time to work out? This is the most common excuse, I mean reason, why most people cannot workout. So in theory, if we can lower the time required, some of us could workout. This is what I did; I lowered my time and adapted to the time I have available.

    work out at home with weight


    I have some time to work out, but I do not have time to go to the gym. That was my realization a while back. I work from home, I needed to get ready to go to the gym, then drive to the gym, workout and come back. The whole thing took almost 2 hours. Working out time was about an hour. So I reduced the time to 30 to 45 minutes, less than half, by working out at home.


    The key to be a Winner, find your WHY

    Oh, I cannot workout at home. This is a very common expression and it may be true for some people, but I convinced myself that I needed to workout. I found my WHY. What is your why? Why do you need to work out? Do you do it for yourself, for your loved ones? For your children or grandchildren?


    How to work out at home

    I needed to work out because I want to be healthy, I want to control my weight, I want to have energy, I want to age healthy, be agile and independent, I want to travel, I want to live life to the fullest and I do not want to spend money on medical treatments. I cannot reach any of those goals if I do not work out. That is my why, it is my health, my body, my eyes, my mind, my hormones.


    I do not like to work out, I prefer to watch YouTube videos or read, or just sit somewhere. Unfortunately, I cannot afford not to workout.


    For many people, including me, to find our WHY is the most important decision to workout. After 30 a lot of body functions slow down, every year they slow down more, and around menopause they change further. Around menopause, our body requires more attention, our hormones need help to keep in balance, we need movement. Being active is important, not being active has a heavy cost on our quality of life and on our bank balances.


    Once you find your why, you will find time, you will find the way to workout either at home, in the park or in the gym. Every time you feel like not working out (as I generally feel every day) just think of your WHY and you will find motivation.

    wourk out after 50

    You do not need to create a gym in your home in order to workout. You can follow YouTube videos, subscribe to special services, do what you already know, hire a trainer (online or in person) to design a routine you like or need or check books and magazines. I think a mini-trampoline, treadmill or stationary bike are great for cardio and for quick workouts.


    I recommend caution with online services designed for younger people. These workouts with a lot of jumping are not safe for anybody, at any age. Many well-known fitness programs like LesMills, Beachbody and others have many online offerings suitable for women in their 40s and 50s. There are also a lot of apps and online services to work out. I am not giving you a list, because it changes by the minute.

    Keep yourself accountable

    Write in your calendar every day if you worked out or not. Reward yourself if you workout certain number of day in a row (without food preferably). You can compete with your husband or friends or at least share your successes with them. If you like gamified things you can join apps like Fitocracy, where you can track your progress, achieve levels, keep accountability and compete with other people.


    Make it fun

    You can prepare music lists, movies, TV programs etc. While I work out if I can I watch TV, by TV I mean Netflix or another streaming service (I do not like standard TV because I do not want to get sick watching ads for drugs). I workout in my pajamas if they are not too loose, but if you want you can dress up. If I do belly dancing I sometimes wear my scarves.


    Keep it simple

    Have a set simple workout for when you only want to work out for a short time or when you feel like not working out at all. It can be just walking fast, a few minutes on your cardio equipment if you have it, or a short video. For me this is my mini-trampoline, I put it in front of the TV, get an episode of a decoration program going and tell myself I can stop after 10 minutes if I want to, but usually I keep going until the program ends in about 20 to 30 minutes.


    It is better to work out ten minutes than zero minutes, but ideally your work out should be longer.

    My personal workout

    I use YouTube videos, a mini trampoline (mini rebounder) and my own programs that include weights and exercises using my body weight and a lot of yoga and dancing. I may not be getting the perfect workout, but I workout almost every day, and that is a lot for me. Usually I do 3 days of cardio (mini-trampoline, 30 to 45 mins) and 2 of cardio and weights (45 to 1 hour); sometimes I do yoga or dance in weekends.


    Do you go to gym, workout at home or do not workout?

    Photos by Heather Ford h Gades Photography on Unsplash