Looking for some advice on how to exercise for weight loss when over forty? Here are the best and worst exercises, recommended by the experts.

In our time coaching thousands of women, we know it’s common to feel stuck because you don’t know which exercise is best for you.

In many cases, women tend to try absolutely everything to get the scales moving. Whether it’s HIIT workouts, spinning, online classes, jogging or swimming… However, often these women find that nothing really works the way they want it to.

They’ll step on the scale after a long week of dieting, only to see no movement. This can be incredibly frustrating, especially when you’re putting your all into a positive lifestyle.

This can lead to many women giving up and throwing in the towel. They’re unable to get their weight under control, and worry that this is just a part of the ageing process. However, the reason this happens is simple.

Women’s bodies and hormones start to change as they get older. This can make it much easier to gain weight (especially around the middle) and harder to lose it again with “normal” methods of exercise.

But with the right exercise approach? With an approach designed to work for women over forty, you can quickly and easily get the scales moving and drop as much as two stone in as little as 12 weeks!

In our most recent podcast episode, we reveal the best and worst exercises for women over forty, so you can finally reach your goals.

How do bodies over forty work?

First, it’s important to understand the changes happening in the bodies of women over forty, as many significant changes happen physiologically which you might not have even considered. This has a huge effect on which are the best and worst exercises for you.

Significantly, your sensitivity to the stress hormone cortisol increases with age, and this increases three times more for women than for men. If cortisol levels are too high, it makes losing weight very difficult. This leads to a few major problems:

  • Leptin resistance: leads to increased cravings and not feeling full even after eating
  • Insulin resistance: which makes it harder to lose weight, especially from around the middle
  • Thyroid deregulation: which slows your metabolism down, meaning you have to eat a lot less to lose weight

All of these make it much harder to avoid gaining weight, let alone lose it!

Additionally, changes in the female sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone begin to occur, even years before clinical menopause. This can lead to:

  • Joint aches and pains
  • Bad knees
  • Bad back
  • Mobility issues
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Tennis elbow

These are made worse if you’re carrying a bit of extra weight, as it puts more load onto joints and causes more inflammation.

On top of this, muscle mass and bone density decrease with age (if you don’t do anything to counteract it). This can lead to:

  • Feeling less toned and more flabby
  • Having less shape to your body
  • Feeling weaker, poorer balance and less energetic
  • Osteoporosis: porous bones which can cause serious issues as you get older
  • A slower metabolism, as the more muscle you have the more the faster your metabolism and vice versa

The solution?

The best and worst types of exercise for women over forty depend on three key things. Firstly, good exercise methods must keep cortisol levels low to moderate, as this blocks weight loss. Secondly, they must not overload the joints, as this will quickly lead to injury and having to give up. And lastly, they needs to maintain muscle mass and bone density, to keep your metabolism high and maintain your health.

This rules out a lot of exercises, including long distance cardio e.g. running and cycling. These options are great for improving cardiovascular fitness, however they can come with some negative impacts on your body. For example, they reduce muscle mass, which leads to less body shape. Additionally, they can be high impact too. This triggers a relatively high stress response which means cortisol will be elevated and makes fat loss more difficult.

It also rules out HIIT training and most high intensity gym classes. These are excellent for getting fit quickly, but mainly for younger people who aren’t carrying excess weight. These high-impact exercises have a high injury risk for anyone carrying extra weight or with existing joint problems. Plus, they can be highly stressful on the body, which will trigger a high stress response and make it hard to lose weight.

Which exercises work best?

In our experience, low-impact strength training (LIST training) is by far the most effective way of training for women over forty. This involves slow, controlled movements with body weight, or moderate weights, to get you fit and toned.

The benefits of this type of exercise include keeping stress on the body low, meaning your body stays in an optimum state for losing weight. Plus, it builds muscle which tones you up all over, reduces bingo wings, flattens your stomach AND increases your metabolism, meaning you can eat more and still lose weight easily!

It’s incredibly efficient; our clients only train three times a week for just 40-45 minutes and they can lose up to 1-2 stone in 12 weeks. Plus, it can be done from home – so you don’t need to waste time commuting to and from the gym.

If you’re interested in finding a long-term, sustainable diet designed for women over 40, you can find out more about working with us here!

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