Because weight loss from exercise is so slow, it’s a crazy non-motivator that makes most midlife women frustrated – even if they feel good, clothes fit better, and they’re getting compliments – getting on the scale to see zero change in weight feels like slap in the face.
I’m not going into the science of fat loss and muscle gain that makes that all true or the temporary depression that visits women when the needle on the scale hasn’t changed even when they were celebrating moments before… I’ll link to some other posts you might like if you want to go down that rabbit hole.
Here’s the truth though. When your sole reason for exercise is weight loss, you won’t stick with it very long, and you will not enjoy it. When it’s a means to an end or punishment in exchange for looking good, it feels like pain to your brain, and pain is something to be avoided.
So … all the reasons to exercise after 50 that could boost your mojo to exercise so much more are below.
Research at the University of Georgia found that previously sedentary adults who did as little as 20 minutes of low to moderate exercise three days a week reported increased energy and feeling less fatigue. It doesn’t take much to increase the amount of oxygen delivered to your muscle. That improves your ability to generate more energy (called ATP).
During menopause? Energy expenditure is important too. To want to energy, you’ve got to reduce fatigue. Research on the decline in energy expenditure (calories) in women in menopause shows a direct correlation with weight gain is connected to lower physical activity.
Reduced Feelings of Stress
For women who exercise during menopause, perceived feelings of stress are much lower among the most physically active. It doesn’t go away but you can deal better!
You’ll Live Longer (and Enjoy It More)
A 2019 study published in the BJM found longevity increased in adults no matter when they started exercise. Middle and older aged adults (40079) were tracked for 12 years. It did not matter how active they were in the past, those increasing physical activity during the study had the lowest mortality rate from all causes.
What’s better? Even with existing cardiovascular disease or cancer adults with increasing physical activity lived longer.
A review of literature published in the Women’s Midlife Health Journal concluded that insomnia problems decreased and sleep quality increased in menopausal women getting sufficient exercise. Reasons to exercise after 50 #1, #2, #3… seriously! Getting better sleep will put you on the path to so many more of the perks on this list! (Psst… you might not get a good night’s sleep too! Over 50% of women experience a drop in libido during menopause… but you don’t have to.)
You’ll Get a Mood Boost
It’s not just about those endorphins. A study in the Journal of Clinical Nursing reported a decrease by 18 and 22% in moderate and severe depression, respectively and also a reduction in feelings of anxiety. It’s been said exercise is better than medications and cognitive therapy at improving depression.
You Can Postpone Aging
Literally, your muscles at 70 or 80 will be “younger” if you exercise. A new, albeit, small study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology comparing older adults who exercised with older adults who didn’t with active 25-year olds found a comparable muscle cellular age in active older adults.
If you don’t have lifelong activity, never fear. We know you can gain increase muscle size and get functional benefits even into your 90s. How? Resistance training. Among reasons to exercise after 50, how’s this? Aging calls and you can just hang up!
You Can Literally Turn Back the Clock
Energy waning? You may need to rejuvenate your mitochondria, your energy producing cells. Until recently declining mitochondria production was accepted as a normal part of aging. Physical activity not only prevents but it can reverse dysfunctional mitochondria function. That is, if you’re already active, go you! If you’re not, there’s still every chance to rejuvenate your mitochondria by boosting your physical activity.
Boost Your Brainpower
Forget your keys? Can’t find your phone? Missing your sunglasses? (Check your head). The hippocampus (memory central) benefits greatly from even small doses of exercise. It’s not just your memory. You’ll solve problems easier, and experience greater creativity.
You Could Boost Your Job Satisfaction
A Leeds Metropolitan University study I’ve included in several corporate speaking presentations confirms you might like your job more if you exercise during your work day. It won’t change your boss but employees who exercise during the workday- whether before or during lunch, rated their job satisfaction higher than those who didn’t exercise. If you’re still working, want to or need to be, you might as well embrace this reason to exercise after 50 and love it!
Bone losses are a natural part of aging. That is, if you’re not doing anything to counter them. Once you factor in life’s daily “depleters” rob you of calcium and magnesium too you will realize bone density gets even more critical. Resistance exercise (of adequate intensity) is the #1 way to boost your bones or at the very least prevent additional loss in BMD (bone mineral density).
Need bone strength from exercise? You might like this.
You’ll Get More Done
As if you needed more reasons to exercise after 50. Who doesn’t need more time? Well, maybe you just need to use it better. That excuse you use that you don’t have time may not fly. People are reportedly more productive on the days they do exercise than those they don’t.
Your Heart Will Be Stronger (and you might avoid or reduce meds)
Of course cardiovascular exercise supports cardiovascular fitness. But other types of exercise support your heart too. You can reduce your blood pressure by up to 20% following resistance training. The benefits last for about 24 hours. Do that 2 or 3 times a week and it adds up.
Flipping 50 program participants say it best. “I started for weight loss, and I got my life back.” The reality is strength in the weight room transfers to an inner strength. That is the exciting part of what I do at Flipping 50. Look, women in midlife are THE most powerful influential people in the world. You, I’m talking to you.
Suddenly, exercise does not seem so selfish, I hope. Suddenly, it should feel like it’s your business to be getting all over that.
You Can Influence Hormone Balance, Naturally
Definitely not last on the list of reasons to exercise after 50 if you’re in menopause, this is the anchor. Hormones influence and are influenced by exercise. By simply changing from exercise for the masses to a hormone balancing exercise prescription you can dramatically enhance the way you feel during and after menopause. Hormones influence your blood sugar, mood, belly fat, hot flashes, appetite, digestion, and can be either negatively or positively life-altering for women in menopause.
It’s all about exercising smarter and less, not the way you thought you needed to when you were 30.
For help on the HOW, grab this collection of quick daily tips you might like in Hot, Not Bothered. (It’s a free digital copy of my book).
Want immediate help and coaching to start your exercise? If you’re starting or restarting, check out the Flipping 50 Kickstart 2.0.