50 Little Fitness Changes to Make After 50

Many of the items on this quick fitness changes list come from Hot, Not Bothered: 99 Daily Flips for Slimmer, Fitter, Faster So You Can Master Metabolism Before, During, and (long) After Menopause. The book references include hundreds of cited studies featuring subjects who are in perimenopause, menopause, and post menopause.

Why is that important? Because when a subject in a study is a young athletic male, nothing about that study’s results may pertain to you. Yet, the media fail to point that out. You may easily be seduced by programs built based on research about people who are not you, not experiencing the same hormone fluctuations. 

fitness mistakes shoulder press Start lifting weights like life depended on it.

It does. The way you age depends on it. Twice weekly strength training for six months changes the expression of 179 genes associated with aging. The weight training must properly overload the muscle. It is the only way to avoid sarcopenia – loss of muscle that otherwise naturally occurs with age. To avoid frailty leading to falls, fractures, and dependent living, lift.

Need to get started exercising? If you’re starting or starting over, you may like this.

28 day Kickstart 2.0 for Women over 50Start journaling. Everything.

You’ll connect the dots between your fitness results and your sleep, your water intake, your digestion, your stress, your energy. You’ll be able to look back at this time last year and see how very far you’ve come. The 5 day or 30 day challenge you’re doing right now may be the start of a habit that changes your life for the better.

Start reading.

Reading empowers you. If you can’t read, listen to books, or have Alexa share books while you’re cooking. Books can inspire you, inform you, and educate you about how to start or keep going. A few of my favorite titles are here.(and just below)

Read You Still Got It, Girl!

If you’re not already integrating all seven fitness components to naturally balance hormones, this book will open up simple ways you can, even when you can’t exercise as much as you think you need to. In fact, the book may help you realize by not exercising as much as you would if you had time, you’re better off! You just need to drop the guilt trip you’re giving yourself. And, yes, this is a shameless plug. But I wrote it to help women, and it can’t do that if you don’t know about it.

Change your skin care.

It’s time to tune into your aging skin’s needs and embrace oils for your face. Yes, even if you’re still breaking out along with those crow’s feet, oil is a game-changer. Natural ingredients minus all of the toxic ingredients you’ll find too often in most beauty products is what you’ll find in new and better product lines. One of my favorites is How is this related to fitness? If you start sweating or getting into the elements it matters what you’re putting on your skin. You’re going to glow from positive fitness changes, so let it shine, girl!

fitness changes

Start a smoothie habit.

In about two minutes you can have a high protein, high antioxidant meal full of vegetables, and fiber that will keep you full for hours. It costs you less than most meals would, about the same price as that latte you buy. More importantly the cost of not eating a high protein fiber-rich breakfast is that you’ll succumb to cravings for caffeine and sugar the rest of the day. You will accelerate the fitness changes you want to see when you become a smoothie girl. Just be selective. This is not the smoothie stand at the mall full of sugar and fruit only or protein powders in a can full of chemicals.

Need a get-started recipe guide for smoothies? Try this.

Wait an hour after rising to exercise.

Save your back. The discs in your back plump overnight as you’re sleeping horizontal such that when you wake the intervertebral pressure puts you at risk for rupture. Both movement and moment pressure can cause a rupture. That is, something like actually going for a run or lifting weights, and something like doing a plank or pushing a shovel to clear the driveway can cause a ruptured disc. After 60 minutes  about 90% of that extra pressure dissipates so you’re much safer to exercise. If that’s news to you, this might be interesting for you.

Start Cooking.

Collect at least half a dozen simple recipes you can make that you can grab ingredients for even without a list. Exercise will not make up for poor nutrition. Exercise is Medicine. Food is medicine. You wouldn’t undergo chemo while you’re smoking, right? Stop the processed fast food options that sabotage you.

fitness changesTravel alone.

Go somewhere you can explore all day without it feeling like exercise. Spend time wondering around exploring. Whether you’d love to tour a foreign city, walk miles of beach and snorkel, or browse all the best museums in New York, you’ll be on an active adventure at your own pace. Sure, you can take someone along but imagine it by yourself without a schedule or agenda. Fitness changes when you’re away. It feels less like a chore, or something you don’t have time for, and something naturally you want to do when the day is wide open and you’re just exploring. Plan an active vacation or retreat (if even for yourself) and you’ll amplify that!

Start counting grams of protein in every meal.

It’s not the total at the end of the day that matters. Your body best absorbs the essential amino acids (EAA) from about 30 grams of high quality protein at once. So shoot for at least two if not three high quality protein meals to sustain your muscle. EAA are the building blocks of muscle. If you’re not seeing tone or your skin is lacking luster these days, check in with your protein intake.

fitness changes

Make your first meal a high protein breakfast.

Even if your smoothie is post workout and not breakfast or you just can’t imagine a cold breakfast, make it high protein. Leftovers will do. Just nix the carbs and make this about protein and tons of veggies. It’s fine to start the day with a salad if you’re inclined. Fitness changes don’t happen by accident after 50 and being on purpose includes nutrition. It was always important, now it’s much more so.

Try exercise fasted.

It doesn’t work for everyone. You can try it to know when you have the most energy to put effort into your exercise. Fasted may be best for you and it may not. Don’t listen to what works for anyone else. Regardless of whether you eat before exercise or not, you do want that high quality protein breakfast. You’re helping your hormones balance you for better mood, blood sugar all day long by doing so.

Follow challenging workouts with a high protein meal 90 minutes later.

Old school said create a caloric deficit by exercising and eating less. We learned that slows your metabolism and confuses your body making it store more fat. Then school said eat within 30 minutes of your workout and have carbs and protein. Chocolate milk was the bomb. But we realized the sugar and dairy or soy in chocolate milk was spoiling results and contributing to inflammation.

For older adults there’s a small blunting effect on ability to synthesize protein (your muscles don’t benefit as much) for about an hour after a workout. Resistance training does open up the muscles for better protein synthesis though, so after that hour is a perfect time to consume a high protein meal. That makes early morning or mid morning ideal times to get a hard workout in.

fitness changes Reconnect with old friends.

Talk about your health habits and what you do for fitness. The more you surround yourself with people who do what you do or want to do the easier you make it to have a healthier life. Those bonds you share with people who grew up with you are unique and they go deep.

Make new friends who are doing what you want to be doing.

It doesn’t matter if they’re next door, across the country, or only online today. You can still get connected. Sometimes you outgrow old friends. Sometimes your dear old friends just aren’t into fitness changes you want to make. All okay. It makes you more interesting to each other. I interviewed friend and 74-year old Dexter Yeats who is an Ironman athlete (she competed in several in 2019 – this is not past tense!) and asked what it’s like getting together with friends at home – who don’t train.

She still enjoys them and they her. They still have plenty in common. But she’s got a whole other set of friends of all ages who participate in endurance events too. Expand your circles.

Start a daily yoga or simple stretching practice.

Maintaining mobility in the coming decades will depend on you staying active. Regularly putting your joints through full range of motion now is insurance.

fitness changesStart hiking.

Get off the grid and the sidewalk and find a path. Surround yourself regularly with nature and you’ll reap far more than just the physical rewards. The reduction in cortisol from stints in nature is documented and called ‘forest bathing.” Leave your cell phone and get unplugged.

Get a massage.

Do it as a reward. Do it as a way to feel better moving so you want to get started. If you’re struggling to exercise because it simply doesn’t feel good, consider starting with a weekly massage. Do that for a month. The better you feel the less frequently you’ll “need” the massage and the more movement will help you stay tuned up. You can also optimize fitness changes by releasing tension in muscles that you don’t even realize you’ve got it in. 

Between massages use a foam roller or The Stick.

Self-massage, or myofascial massage, helps you stretch more effectively by smoothing out the fibrous overlay on top of your muscles. The difference between fascia and muscle can be described like this. If you’re feeling “tight” but you haven’t lost range of motion, you probably need to use a foam roller or The Stick.

If you’ve lost range of motion the muscles may need a good stretch. Yet, they may benefit more when you’ve had that fascia smoothed out. Myofascial release can also help hydrate those fibers and smooth them out which will reduce the appearance of cellulite.

fitness changes Volunteer for a race.

If you’re used to being in the race, volunteer. Give back from the other side of the bib number. If you’re not ready to do a race yet, volunteer. It may change your mind. Either way you’ll be inspired and be contributing in a very worthwhile way for those who are getting out of their comfort zone and appreciate you. If you want to see up close and personal how fitness changes people, this is it.

Eat more vegetables.

The more micronutrients you get in the less you experience cravings. Your skin, bones, and muscles all require a micronutrient-dense diet. You’ve never felt better than when you begin to consume 6-9 cups of vegetables on a daily basis. Fitness changes will begin to happen that couldn’t without the right nutrients.

Exercise outdoors.

Even if hiking isn’t your thing, try moving your weights to the deck. Ride your bicycle or swim in an outdoor pool. Most adults spend a considerable amount of time indoors breathing in stale air and surrounded by chemicals in carpet, upholstery. Any time you can get a little more fresh air, do it.

fitness changesTry stand up paddle boarding.

It’s a slow moving exercise in balance that will challenge your feet and stabilizers. It’s also tranquil and engaging. You’ve got to be in the present moment.

Exercise for a reason.

A charity, a trip, a stretch doing something you’ve never done. There are events all over for walking, running, biking, and group fitness classes. Just keep your eyes open or type into a search engine and you’ll find something. I might never have done my first marathon had it not been for Team in Training by the Leukemia and Lymphoma society. The second time I fundraised for them I coached a group. It’s a game changer for both you and those you raise funds for.

Take dance lessons.

Alone or with your partner. It’s as good for the posture and cardio as it is for the brain. Learning something new, reacting to a partner or calls (square-dancing) and exercising to music are all good for health and fitness.

Box regularly.

Put on the wraps, the gloves, find a place with a bag or just do it with the additional weight of the gloves (about 12 oz). You can learn at any age. And if fitness changes for you such that low impact is important, you can create high intensity work with boxing without the jarring.

fitness changes Swim.

For a low impact, muscle and joint-loving exercise, it’s hard to beat swimming. And if not swimming, because potentially your shoulders don’t allow it, water exercise is a wonderful way to get full range of motion when otherwise you can’t. If you’re one who loves a lot of exercise, doing this type of recovery movement can keep you from sabotaging yourself.

Some exercise is recovery and some exercise requires recovery.

Try intermittent fasting.

That’s really just shortening the eating window. For most people food has become an all day event. Grazing or small meals frequently means your body never needs to burn fat. Start with 3 meals, no snacks, and a long overnight fast between dinner and breakfast. Don’t skip breakfast as some intermittent fasting programs recommend. For women in midlife specifically eating early is key to optimal hormone health.

Alternatively you can do a fasting-mimicking diet that allows you to eat regular meals just less and it’s scientifically designed with specific amounts of plant protein, fat, and carbohydrates to trick your body into thinking it’s fasting.

Test your DNA.

Use the results to power your exercise and your nutrition. Talk with your family members about it. Fitness changes you might not otherwise would have considered can be revealed to you from your DNA test. Though we all need strength training to hold onto muscle as we age, you (like me) may be genetically predisposed to endurance exercise. That would mean you can and should do a greater percent of your exercise at lower intensity for longer period of time. Several of my private clients have found just this to be the case.

Learn to meditate.

The brain benefits are well documented. For women in midlife the calm and focus from meditation will counter the brain fog, and loss of memory, that are common complaints. If you feel like you’ve got monkey mind and just can’t focus, anyone can learn to do it. Just five minutes a day can be of benefit.

Wear clothes you love to exercise in.

You don’t have to spend $90 on a pair of yoga pants, but if you can, it might be a motivator to you. There is a difference. Whatever the cost, you should love the way they make you feel. If it’s been a while and you’re still wearing something from 10 years ago, invest. There’s more support, control, and comfort cooling or warming you in fit fashions today. No more waiting until some day.

fitness changesGet a scale that measures body composition.

At a recent media appearance I shared why “weight loss” is the worst New Year’s resolution! If you right how lose weight and a large percent of it is muscle, you are slowing your metabolism. After 50 that’s harder to turn around. You want to be monitoring your fat loss, not just your weight.

Get exercise shoes that fit your foot and your activity.

Give yourself the extra half size or the wider toe box. You may order online for convenience but get fitted in a store by someone who knows feet and shoes both first. So many women find they’ve got Morton’s neuroma, plantar fasciitis, or Achilles tendinitis in midlife. It is related to hormone changes but careful selection of your footwear and your exercise programming can reduce your risk.

Just as your fitness changes, so too do your feet! What were higher arches may no longer be. What was enough cushion may not be as you lose fat (right? why there?) in the pads of your feet.

Get more sleep.

If you have any feelings that your workouts are just not getting you the results they should be, check your sleep habits. Too little sleep can sabotage several hormones that you need on track for optimal fitness, especially now. Optimal cortisol levels, testosterone, and growth hormone production depend on sleep. They in turn affect other hormones. So just as important as how many and how much weight you lift is how much sleep you get to allow the repair of those muscles.

Drink less caffeine.

If it all too easily spirals into not just a cup or two but a pot in the morning and an afternoon coffee shop habit, there’s a good chance you’re cortisol levels are off. If those coffees are a substitute for nourishing food or water, it’s time to get control. Decide what goes and stays. Right before a workout might be a perfect time to have that coffee.

A little caffeine before a workout is an ergogenic boost. That is, it can make you work a little harder without feeling you are, and can boost fat metabolism. You can get that kick from coffee or from matcha, powdered green tea leaves. Matcha in fact has been shown to increase fat burning after interval training by 29%. To get the boost you want matcha in your blood stream when you exercise so have a cup about an hour before or add it to a “simple shake.” (below)  You don’t want a high fiber or fat shake before a workout. Save that for after.

Simple shake:

Blend. The protein before a workout boosts muscle building benefits of the workout even before you begin. The matcha boosts the fat burning benefits. Win win!

But if you do drink coffee, you might love this. 

Enjoy wine.

Surprised? Just don’t over do it. Daily is overdoing it. Wine, after all is sugar. Enjoy a glass with dinner instead of before dinner when the sugar is much more quickly metabolized on an empty stomach. That can increase the likelihood what you eat after is stored as fat. Just watch out for the habit of starting with coffee and ending with wine.

Ideally, you have energy to start your day and can relax at the end of the day without the outside support. In other words coffee and wine shouldn’t be a crutch. But, there is some proof that moderate drinkers are less likely to get osteoporosis than non-drinkers.

Spend more time with women who support what you love.

The collaborative nature of women is amplified in later life. Women are most likely to seek each other and provide support. We “get” each other. And we’re less judgmental about exactly what you do and more supportive of you finding the right thing for you. Fitness changes are harder to navigate alone and a group can make it easier to stay accountable.

Use a weighted vest.

Wear it walking the dog. Wear it doing squats or lungs at home. Wear it cooking dinner. Loading the spine is good for bone density. It will happen as you’re doing rowing exercise and chest press lifting weights, too. Be careful putting on a weighted vest if you have shoulder issues, that can be tricky.

fitness changes Try Blood Flow Restriction Bands.

What you do for optimal fitness changes. What you can do changes too. If you can’t lift heavy, or you’re nervous about it, this is exciting news right now. It’s not new, so if new makes you nervous, relax. It just took an incredibly long time to get this research originated in Japan out here to those of us who stand to benefit the most. Link here to a longer blog about this. If you want and need to lift lighter, even if you can’t exercise right now, blood flow restriction bands can be a useful tool.

Try to master a yoga pose you currently can’t do.

Is there a standing balance pose or an inversion you can’t do? Make it your goal. The focus and concentration on one small goal from a consistent focus will give you a sense of accomplishment. Energy management and enhanced mental focus from a yoga practice support every area of your life.

Train Right.

Get a thorough assessment of your diet, your current exercise program, your goals, and daily habits. If you’re still exercising the way you did a decade ago or if what you’re doing isn’t working, it’s time for a review. Sit down whether virtually or face-to-face with someone who is an expert in working with women like you. You should come away with confidence you’ve got fitness changes for a better plan, or know what tests would be helpful for you to have, and what nutritional changes you want to consider, along with the lifestyle habits that will help you feel best now and later.

Move Fast.

Fast twitch muscle fibers are lost twice as fast as you age. Of all the fitness changes you make, this one should be at the forefront in every workout. It takes minutes to activate fast twitch fibers but it needs to be done consistently. They’re responsible for your metabolism and your reaction skills. It just takes a few minutes a day to work on them either through quick agility moves or strength training. Here’s more about how.

fitness changes Consider Vitamin D

Is your energy level low? It’s best to test, rather than guess with supplements. Low Vitamin D levels could be contributing to your of lack energy. You also need Vitamin D to support lean muscle mass, which is already harder to keep or gain when you’re older. Testing micronutrients can tell you where you stand with a number of nutrients that will have an influence on your fitness, health, and metabolism. Use code flipping50 for a discount on your

Helpful? Share it with a friend. Bookmark it to come back to later. You don’t have to do them all at once! Just begin. One thing! What is your first one thing?

In full disclosure, if you make a purchase from any of the affiliate links included on this post I will make a small commission from the sale of certain items but the price is the same to you. I only share with you items I use and love myself. 

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Circumference outside of both arms, at the armpit

Right Triceps
Halfway btwn shoulder & elbow, arm extended.

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Right Thigh
Standing with weight on both legs, measure halfway between knee cap and hip flexor

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Standing with weight on both legs, find the largest point of calf.

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