Physical Activity Habits That Are Sabotaging Your Results

An older woman with a smile on her face, stretching out her body.

The harder you work the more results you’ll get.

If you’re 50, there’s a strong chance this is how you were raised. Hard work is rewarded. When it comes to exercise you may be surprised to find that isn’t always the case.

This week I’ve consulted with two different women completely unaware of what was obvious to me: they have been sabotaging their results. Based on these recent conversations and decades of working with women who had the best of intentions yet were putting the parts of their exercise program together in a way that limited them, I pulled this list together. If you’re putting in the effort but not seeing the results, one or more of these might be getting in your way.

High Intensity Exercise is Your Only Exercise. If you do heavy weight training Tuesday and Thursday, tucked between Monday-Wednesday-Friday high intensity interval training (HIIT), your body has gone high intensity every day five days in a row. With no recovery between, there is breakdown every day, and no time to repair between. Both of these activities are highly recommended, yet high intensity days – whether strength training or cardio – back to back daily will result in more risk of injury, more overall fatigue and no chance for your hormones to respond positively.

A better plan would be to consider doing HIIT Monday, Lift heavy Tuesday, take Wednesday for a lighter exercise day or a day off. Then Thursday and Friday you can repeat the HIIT then weights, respectively. Do some light activity on the weekends.

Your Exercise Schedule is Based on the Gym’s Schedule. If you want the optimal plan for you, schedule as in #1 with consideration of your “hard days,” and “easy days.” Do that before you go check out the exercise class schedule at your fitness center. Daily bootcamp may not allow enough recovery to prevent muscle losses or injury. A favorite instructor might teach Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday but that doesn’t mean it’s the best schedule for you to take her HIIT all three days.

A better plan would be to determine what is realistic for your time commitment, what days of the week work best for your schedule, and then plan to have at least a day off between exercise of the same nature (HIIT and HIIT). Save two days off between exercise for the same muscle groups (Strength Training).


Your Goal is Five Days A Week of Exercise and It’s Five Days In A Row. You’re risking breakdown that occurs at a faster rate than repair. The only way to manage this is to vary your mode of exercise. Swim one day, bike another, run or walk another. Lift weights at least twice a week either on the same day as cardio or save it for a day when that is your featured exercise.

You Don’t Have Recovery Days. These come in two forms: complete rest days where you’re active in daily life, and recovery exercises. Recovery workouts are those that are lower in intensity as well as lower impact on the body. Swimming, or water exercise, bicycling or rowing are easier on the body than running or other high impact exercises. Insert them into your weekly plan. They come after a hard day and or sometimes before a hard day.

You Don’t Have Days Off. Take a complete day off at least once a week and sometimes two, not back-to-back, is one of the best things you can do for your fitness level. You’re not on the couch during these days. Keep your busy life and other non-exercise activities should play a big role on these days. Adults over 50 often do better with two days rest between exercise that is challenging. It is simply an increased need for recovery – but not an indication of any fitness limitation. At any age, recovery time that is optimal for you is very unique. Therefore it’s impossible for a large group to exercise on the same schedule and expect all will have the same results.

Many of these tips are discussed at length in You Still Got It, Girl! The After 50 Fitness Formula For Women.

Does “work harder, get better results” thinking get in the way of your results? Share your comments.

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2 thoughts on “Physical Activity Habits That Are Sabotaging Your Results”

  1. I have learned the hard way. Working out 5 to 6 days a week and now suffering a groin injury that will take several weeks or months to heal.

  2. Debra Atkinson

    Speedy recovery Theresa! Keep up the quality nutrition and find a pool if possible so you’re able to stay active!

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