Is Cardio Exercise Still Important For Women Over 40?
Age is just a number, and with the right lifestyle choices, you can feel and look youthful well into your 40s, 50s and beyond. Cardiovascular exercise, or cardio, plays a crucial role in maintaining both physical and mental well-being.
For women over 40, regular cardio workouts can bring about a multitude of positive effects, from improving heart health to boosting strength, fitness and even enhancing the appearance of your skin. However, it’s important to strike a balance between cardio and strength training as we age to maximise the benefits and minimise potential downsides.
Positive effects of cardio exercise on women over 40
I’ve noticed that cardio seems to be getting singled out on social media as something to avoid as a mature woman, in favour of weights.
While I do agree that strength training is really important as we age – I’ve been incorporating weights for over a year now – I don’t really get the negative press. Muscle can increase faster when you pair cardio with strength training and you’ll only impair muscles if you’re not doing enough weight training or eating a nutritious diet.
As women age, the risk of heart disease increases so regular workouts that increase heart rate can help reduce this risk by improving circulation, lowering blood pressure and reducing bad cholesterol levels. The chance of stroke decreases and it helps combat a decline in brain function.
As for mood and mental health, cardio exercise releases endorphins, the body’s natural mood elevators. For midlife women, this can be particularly beneficial as it helps combat the hormonal changes that often lead to mood swings and anxiety during menopause. This is one of the reasons I enjoy going for a run in the fresh air – it helps me to de-stress and I always feel that I sleep better (and let’s face it, sleep doesn’t always come easy when you are perimenopausal or menopausal).
It is also about future-proofing our bodies so we can live independently for as long as possible. Boosting cardiovascular health and muscle endurance makes everyday activities easier like carrying heavy bags of groceries and maintaining good balance which is so important as we age.
Enhanced Skin Health From Doing Cardio
People sometimes worry about too much cardio being aging and causing a gaunt appearance especially in the face. Yet it has a positive impact on skin health by increasing blood flow and promoting the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to skin cells. This improved circulation can help the skin maintain its youthful appearance. It may also contribute to collagen production. Collagen, a protein that provides skin with its elasticity and firmness, tends to decline with age. Cardio exercise stimulates collagen production, helping to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and keep skin glowing.
I always have a rosy glow to my face after a run and there’s a noticeable plumpness to my skin. The effect can last pretty much the whole day and it feels like I’ve had a facial treatment. I can definitely see an improvement in my skin these days from a combination of regular exercise, a more disciplined skincare routine and, for the last 12 months, my daily marine collagen supplement. I was sceptical, but I’m really happy with what the supplement is doing for my skin. If you would you like to try Known Nutrition’s Advanced Collagen, I have a 20% discount code to use at Known Nutritionwhen you apply TIDYLIFE20 at the checkout.
So why is cardio getting a bad rep for women over 40?
While cardio exercise offers numerous benefits, it’s important to be aware of potential downsides, especially for women over 40 such as:
Weight management – Cardio alone is not going to bring about dramatic weightloss if that’s what you are interested in. In fact high intensity cardio can spike cortisol levels which is going to make weightloss harder. As it is really common to put on weight around your middle, maintaining a healthy weight can become more challenging as we age, so the key is to combine cardio, strength training and good nutrition to maintain a healthy weight and strong body.
Overuse injuries – engaging in high-impact activities without proper form or rest can lead to overuse injuries like stress fractures or joint problems. I’ve had my fair share of lower back, S.I. joint, ankle and foot issues (!!) which I know have been compounded by running – it is high impact, but I enjoy it so I continue.. but have moderated it lately so I’m not doing as many kms as often I was. However there’s plenty of other cardio to choose from – swimming, cycling, walking, hiking, plus gym equipment such as cross trainers, rowing machines etc. And in fact to improve joint health the best thing you can do is move – cardio helps fight osteoporosis!
Hormonal Imbalances – excessive cardio can potentially disrupt hormonal balance, especially if combined with inadequate nutrition. This may lead to issues like irregular menstrual cycles or bone density loss.
Balancing cardio with strength training
As women age, it’s crucial to strike a balance between cardio and strength training. Strength training is vital for:
Muscle Preservation – preserve lean muscle mass, which tends to decline with age. This is so important for maintaining a healthy metabolism and physical function.
Bone Health – help improve bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.
Joint Health – when done correctly, can strengthen the muscles surrounding the joints, providing stability and protection against injury.
In summary, cardio exercise is a powerful tool that can bring a range of positive effects to women over 40, from improved heart health to enhanced skin appearance and mental well-being. By balancing your fitness routine, you can enjoy the many benefits of cardio exercise and maintain a strong, healthy body.
I’d love to know what you think..? If you have any questions about my fitness regime, collagen supplement or anything else do feel free to get in touch or leave a message in the comments!
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