The Best Exercises for Women over 40

What are the best exercises for women over 40? I was shown an omen recently and I took notice. I must share it with all women over 40 who feel like their bodies have stopped responding to exercise.

Many of my friends and I have been consistent with exercise for all of our adult lives. Over the years we dabbled in a variety of exercise modalities, and what was most effective in our childbearing years was consistency.

It did not matter much what exercise we chose to do. As long as we were consistent, we maintained a lean, healthy (or so we thought) body. 

At some point in my journey as a woman over 40, my body stopped responding to random exercises.

Especially the long hours of cardio. Perhaps you’ve experienced this as well? The routines that worked for you when you were in your 20s and 30s suddenly stopped in your 40s.

Coincidentally, two of my friends who relied on distance running exclusively for exercise fractured bones while out running (on the same day).

I took this as an omen.

How was it that these women who appeared so healthy easily fractured bones? Was I next? I did not want to risk injury for leanness, and besides the running and yoga combo were no longer giving me results. I was stressed out from long runs and hour-long yoga sessions, tired, and gaining flabby weight.

This forced me to do some research.  Hey, you know what they say about invention… Necessity is the mother of invention. I pursued certifications in training with concentrations on midlife fitness for women, as well as hormonal nutrition.

If you are a woman in your 40s, your old exercise routines from your 20s and 30s are not the best options for your body today.

When we knock on the door of midlife, priorities such as maintaining bone density, endurance, balance, and a healthy posture become necessary to prevent injury and help us feel as we go about life. Of course, every woman wants to maintain leanness or get leaner, but the best exercises for women over 40 focus on building strength with minimal risk for injury.

It is common for a woman around age 40ish to figure out that the methods that worked in early adulthood are no longer working. As a result, she may try to run (or spin) longer and harder all the while increasing her risk for things like fractures and depression.

The exercise options listed below will minimize your risk of injury and leave you feeling good in your skin. They will also help your metabolism to burn more calories at rest by reversing the natural muscle loss associated with normal aging after the age of 30. (Sarcopenia)

Here are the best exercises for women over 40 to focus on:

1. Posture improving exercises

Some of the best exercises for women over 40 are core-strengthening and shoulder-stabilizing. Core stabilizing exercises such as hardstyle planks, bird-dogs, and dead-bugs, body glides and anti-rotation exercises are far more beneficial for posture than sit-ups or crunches.  In addition, a strong core stabilizes the spine helping to avoid back issues which can become common with a weakened core.

Related Post – Fitness for Women Over 40 – Planks: The Best Core Exercise

Exercising in your 40s is less about 6-pack abs and more about healthy posture which has an added benefit of a longer, leaner appearance. Shoulder stabilizing exercises help to keep shoulders from rounding forward, a common sight in older women that creeps up on us gradually over the years. The goal here is to keep the neuromuscular connection in the postural stabilizing muscles in good working order.

These are not vanity shoulder exercises, but keeping these muscles healthy will aid in making your shoulders look more athletic simply from good posture. All varieties of rows including the use of bands, dumbbells, barbells, a cable machine, and TRX  also help to improve posture.

2. Balance challenge exercises.  

Balance is key when considering the best exercises for women over 40. This photo displays a lunge with weighted resistance.

Heed this mantra when it comes to balance: If you don’t use it, you lose it. A good place to get in some balance work is during warm-up.  We use single-sided exercises as part of our warm-up to challenge balance and increase blood flow to the joints and muscles so that we can train effectively.

A stability ball is also a great way to add a balance challenge to some resistance training exercises. Some examples include stability ball alternate side chest flies, stability ball pistol rollouts, stability ball walk-out planks, and any shoulder work performed seated on a stability ball. Single-sided deadlifts are also a great way to challenge balance.

3. Resistance Training with weights

If you want to experience the happy hormone rush from an effective training session, pick up some weights. There is nothing like the feeling after a weight training session to lift your mood.

We can thank endorphins for that! In fact, the regular release of endorphins has been shown to help keep depressive thoughts at bay. Thirty minutes of resistance training a few days a week can do wonders for a positive attitude.

Weight training is also the single best way to rev up your metabolism. Calorie burn after a weight training session can last for several hours after the workout ends. Cardio sessions, by the way, do not. That is not to say that cardio is useless, speaking of which…

4. Cardio for endurance.

I am not completely anti cardio for women over 40. Cardio has its benefits too: Endurance, stamina, heart health, and stress reduction are the most notable benefits.  

It is important to stress that while 30-60 minute walking sessions are great for stress relief, we cannot rely on walking alone to maintain our quality of life in our 40’s and beyond.

Whenever you’re feeling discouraged that it’s “no longer working”, refer back to the best exercises for women over 40 above.

These will help you to maintain balance, posture, muscle mass for a healthy metabolism, and bone density. This may look overwhelming but resistance, balance, and posture training need not take more than 30-40 minutes 2-3 times per week. Commit to a daily walk for endurance, heart health, and stress reduction and your midlife quality will be enhanced.

Want some video demonstrations? Sign up for my free video training series below to gain access to THREE of my best exercises for women over 40.

FREE Video Series: The Best Exercises for Women Over 40!


Free 3-Part video Series goes in-depth teaching you how to perform the above exercises step-by-step THE RIGHT WAY without getting hurt.

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