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Exercise tips for women over 50

It is never too late to start being more active. The NHS recommends at least 150 minutes of exercise a week.

Physical activity for women in their 50s may help with symptoms of the menopause, joint pain, anxiety, depression, and sleep problems. Exercise also reduces heart disease risk, osteoporosis and diabetes risk, helps control weight and excess fat.

Always seek medical advice before starting a new exercise programme.

Basic exercise tips

A complete fitness programme must include aerobic exercise, muscle strength conditioning, and stretching for flexibility.

  • Aerobic exercise: Walking, jogging, and dance-exercise are good forms of aerobic exercise. They work the large muscles in your body, which benefits your cardiovascular system -- and your weight. Work up to getting 30 or more minutes per session, at least five days a week. Exercise at a pace that lets you carry on a conversation -- what's known as the "talk test."
  • Strength training: Lifting hand weights improves your strength and posture, reduces the risk of lower back injury, and also helps you tone. Start with a hand weight that you can comfortably handle for 8 repetitions. Gradually add more until you can complete 12 reps.
  • Stretching: Stretching exercises help maintain flexibility and range of motion in joints. They also reduce the risk of injury and muscle soreness. Yoga and Pilates are good forms of stretching exercise; they build core body strength and increase stability.

Find reasons to exercise

Another exercise tip: Every little bit of movement counts, so move, if even a little. If you're too busy for a regular workout, just look for opportunities to be in motion. Research shows that a significant number of health benefits come from all those extra steps you take during the day.

A few more fitness tips and "moving" ideas:

  • Take the stairs instead of the lift. At home, don't shout up the stairs -- go up!
  • Get up and talk to colleagues, rather than sending emails. Have a meeting with one or two workmates; go outside and make it a walking meeting.
  • Walk briskly whenever you can.
  • Find a sport, game, or activity you enjoy. Take tennis lessons, for example.

If you're travelling, take your walking shoes with you. With comfortable shoes, your feet can be your main mode of transport.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on March 18, 2016

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