Bodies change as we grow older, and so must our approach to fitness.
Recently I featured on Danae Mercer’s podcast ‘Talking out loud’ discussing all things women, fitness and navigating through our forties and beyond’.
I chatted to Danae about my experience with exercise when I was younger. In my twenties I focused a lot of running and being physically fit. While I was fit and seemingly strong on the outside (I had a six pack) it became very obvious after suffering a back injury that my core in fact was not that strong. I started to rehabilitate my back and my body through Pilates. From that point I really fell in love with both mat and reformer Pilates and actually decided to retrain, I used to work in media and film, when I was pregnant with my first daughter I used Pilates all the way through my pregnancy and I felt really strong and amazing and post-natally I was actually very strong and able to revisit Pilates very quickly after having my first child.
We don’t often realise we should be changing the way we exercise as we age. Whether you’ve had children or not, when we go into our 40s, the body muscle mass changes. So it’s very much about changing the way we workout to make sure we are really supporting our bodies. Have a read of the key points we discussed below
How does fitness change for women aged 40 and beyond?
When we are going into our 40’s our body mass changes. From the age of 30/35 our bone and muscle density starts to decline and it is really important when we workout to focus on how we can manage this decline. It is so important, whether you have had children or not, to focus on our core and pelvic floor strength from as early as 30 years old to build a solid and strong foundation as we grow older. We also need to increase our impact and strength training in order to help us to build bone density and muscle mass; that repetitive impact can help our bones strengthen and grow.
The thought of regular exercise may seem particularly challenging when we are heading into this stage of our lives. With the peri-menopause and the menopause comes some real hormonal changes.These changes often can often cause feelings of tiredness and low energy so I put a real emphasis on starting small and building our way up. There is no need to get out there and do an hour of running, it might be 10 minutes of strength training or some bodyweight circuits to build on that impact work; planks, squats etc are all really great for the body.
What length of workout should woman in her 40’s be aiming for to get the necessary benefits of exercise?
Firstly, it is really important to do what you feel you can do, make sure it is achievable. Whether that is 20 minutes 2 or 3 times a week or whether you can do more that is also brilliant. When it comes to the longevity and the bone density element it is actually really interesting. While running is a good form of impact exercise, it is only actually effective for bone density growth in the first 10 minutes. That is why it is a really great idea to mix up your workouts to make sure we are putting that pressure on our body to create that bone density.
What about women who (like many in the current situation) do not have access to a gym or weights?
It is really amazing how we have all changed during COVID-19, we have seen how we have really been able to adapt. Working out from home with just a mat can be really rewarding and exciting, not to mention accessible for all. niix is very much about working from home with little to no equipment. All the workouts range from 10 – 40 minutes, we really focus on building a habit, the more often you do it the more habitual becomes and you will start to reap the rewards.
What advice do you have for women who are struggling to get moving due to the current environment we are living in?
It can be really tough. Right now are lives might be a lot more sedentary, we are often lounging around in pyjamas and tracksuits and motivation levels to get up and get moving might be low. One thing I always tell my clients is, whatever the weather to get up and change into your gym gear. I always find putting my gym kit on first thing in the morning sets the tone for the day ahead. It means when you do feel like getting moving, even if it is for as little as 10 minutes, you will be ready and raring. I think starting small is also key. We know exercise makes us feel better afterwards, but often we talk ourselves out of moving as we associate it with an hour or so long activity. The trick is to just get active, you might find yourself moving for 10, 20 or even 30 minutes, it doesn’t matter how small – all movement counts. It also doesn’t have to be an intense HIIT workout, it can be something low impact or even just getting outdoors for a walk which is obviously amazing not only for our physical but also our mental health.
Tune in and listen to the rest of the podcast here: https://www.listennotes.com/podcasts/talking-out-loud/fitness-after-40-menopause-bRjMnI2FEZ9/