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What Are Some of the Best Exercises for Women

By Paul Rothbart

Best Exercises for Women

Exercise is essential for good health and a long life. Doctors and medical professionals recommend working out regularly for about 30 minutes per day, 4-5 times per week. These guidelines can vary depending on a number of factors that affect your personal situation. The type of exercise you choose also is dependent on age, body type, health issues, and personal preference. There’s strength training, high intensity interval training, cardiovascular, and disciplines such as yoga and Pilates. There’s no shortage of options and it can be hard to choose what’s best.

A workout routine can also vary by gender. Women need exercise every bit as much as men. They can train as hard as their male counterparts but may have specific needs. For example, many women are hesitant to build body strength for fear it will make their bodies less feminine. Strength is a useful and healthy asset for anybody.

People recovering from injury or aches and pains may need specialized exercises; for women, this can include recovering from giving birth. One must also consider their age when choosing exercises. What the body needs and what it can handle changes as you get older.

Exercises for Young Women

Women (and men) are usually at their physical peak in their 20s and 30s. You’re often challenging your body, working all muscle groups and your cardiovascular system hard. Training with intensity is great for your body, but be careful not to push too hard. Injuries will set you back and if you do permanent damage, you may never be able to train as you like again.

There are always trending workouts and new exercise equipment that make claims such as “get fit in six weeks” or “be in top shape in just 10 minutes a day” Avoid these and stick to time-proven exercises that work. You could hire a certified personal trainer to design a workout plan and supervise you, but that is expensive and there is plenty you can do on your own.

Total Body Workout

A great workout for all-around fitness that can be incorporated into your lifestyle is a total body workout in which you choose three different areas, such as upper body, glutes and core, and lower body. Work out on three non-consecutive days such as Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to allow the body to rest and recover. Do one body part each day and choose five exercises that will work it. Perform three sets with as little rest as possible between each repetition to improve cardio.

  • Upper body - Triceps extensions, dumbbell curls, bench presses, overhead presses, and lateral raises
  • Glutes and core - Leg deadlifts done with a single leg, planks, side planks, crunches, sit-ups
  • Lower body - Squats, calf raises, running in place, jumping rope, plies

Most younger women will be able to do this workout as scheduled without problem after a period of adjustment, provided they stretch and warm up beforehand.

Exercises for Women Recovering From Pregnancy

Giving birth is one of the most joyous and emotional events of a woman’s life. It is also one of the most challenging, involving nine months of hormonal and physical changes, culminating with the birth process itself. Many new mothers are eager to get their pre-pregnancy bodies back ASAP.

The correct approach is to ease back into exercise. Working out is certainly beneficial to a postpartum woman but you don’t want to overdo it. Check with your doctor to make sure you are ready for exercise. How soon you can train will depend on factors such as how complicated your delivery was and how fast your body recovers.

Some of the best exercises to add to your post-delivery workout are for your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles. You will want to avoid strenuous running, jumping, and lifting for awhile because you won’t have the body strength for that. Start with a routine along these lines:

  • Kegel exercise - This is probably the best move for strengthening the pelvic floor
  • Pelvic tilt exercise - This one is an excellent way to strengthen the abdominals
  • Happy baby pose - This is an exercise that will help loosen up a tight pelvic floor
  • Belly breathing - Breathing exercises will strengthen your core and help you take natural full breaths that aid in healing

Keep your workouts short to begin with; no more than about 15 minutes. Move slowly out of and into the starting position of an exercise. Gradually build up the length and intensity of your workouts as you recover and get stronger.

Exercises for Women Over 40

Exercise is important for women of all ages. But as you get older, the body changes and you need to make adjustments to your workout. The age of 40 is a milestone that many people consider the beginning of middle age. Changes in exercise don’t have to be drastic at this point. When women hit 40, they tend to lose lean body mass. Resistance training is the way to keep that mass and even to build it. Use light weights and high rep sets of 8-10. Here is a solid total body workout for middle-aged women:

  • Squats - Three sets
  • Bench presses - Three sets
  • Bent over rows - Three sets
  • Leg presses - Three sets
  • Shoulder presses - Three sets
  • Walking lunges - Two sets of 12 reps
  • Superset bicep curls and tricep extensions - Two sets of 15 reps
  • Superset lateral raises and front raises - Two sets of 15 reps

A superset is when you do the first exercise and go immediately to the second with no rest between. Spend 10-15 minutes stretching and warming up before, and another 10 cooling down after. Be careful to use correct body forms, keep your feet shoulder width apart when standing, and your back in a straight line to avoid injury.

Exercises for Women Over 60

By the age of 60, a woman has been through menopause and her body is very different. Seniors tend to put on weight and have difficulty losing it. The loss of muscle continues at an increasing rate. Older women often have difficulty sleeping and are prone to insulin resistance. At 60, you are no longer a young woman but you aren’t ancient either. Older women can and should exercise, but need to do it a little differently.

  • Lifting weights - Women over 60 are not too old for weight training and, in fact, will benefit from it. Use small dumbbells that weigh five pounds or less. You can do the same exercises you could at 40, just less weight, fewer sets, and more rest between sets.
  • Cardiovascular exercise - Cardio is another exercise that is just as helpful to women over 60 as their younger counterparts. You don’t have to run marathons. Light jogging for 15 minutes three times per week can keep your cardiovascular system strong and healthy. Walking for 30 minutes 4-5 times per week is an excellent way to improve cardio and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Calisthenics - Resistance training using the weight of your body is a good way to keep lean muscle mass. Push-ups can be done with your knees touching the floor to reduce stress on the body. Squats, jumping jacks, running in place, and dancing are also excellent ways to stay in shape without risking injury.

A woman hitting 60 doesn’t make her ready for the retirement home. She should continue to exercise, taking care to do it properly to account for her different body.

Everyone should exercise regularly. It’s one of the pillars of good health. Women need to work out just like men. Their unique bodies, which can give birth and change after menopause, just need the proper type of training to ensure good health without overstressing themselves.

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