Eight Best Exercises for Women over 40

woman push up


Losing weight and getting in shape don’t get any easier as we age. It’s estimated that inactive people lose between 3 % to 5 % of their muscle mass with each decade, starting in their 30s.  Even active people lose a little bit of muscle as they age. There is only one way to efficiently combat that, and that’s doing any type of exercise that will either build or preserve your muscle mass. Not only will it make you stronger and firmer, but you will move better, have less aches and pains when you age, and feel more in control of your body. And the more muscle mass you have, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to lose weight and keep it off. There are lots of exercises you can do that achieve this.  Get the low down from top NYC fitness trainer Julia Derek on the 8 best exercises for women over 40.

8 best exercises for women over 40

  1. woman swimmingSwimming.The great thing about swimming is that you work your entire body with each stroke you take. You build muscle and your cardiovascular system at the same time. When you age, you’ll often find that you experience pain in different parts of your body. That’s because our joints wear down due to repeated impact. Any time you can engage in low-impact exercise, do so. It doesn’t get more low impact than swimming. The only downside with swimming is that, because it’s so low-impact, you will not build your bones. As we age, we also lose bone mass, especially if you’re a Caucasian or Asian woman. It’s estimated that 20 % of those women will develop osteoporosis after age 50. (Ref)
  2. woman jump ropingJump rope. It’s the perfect complement to swimming, as, being so high-pact, you will keep your bones strong. To protect your joints, ensure that you stay close to the ground each time you swing the rope under your feet, a.k.a. jump. It’s one of the absolute best ways to get a cardio workout while also maintaining muscle mass. Boxing champions have long since figured this out, hence their incredible lean physique and stamina. It’s hard to jump rope, so start by doing 30 seconds, rest 30-60 seconds, repeat this 5-15 more time. You can also increase the length of each jump set if you want so you do something like jump 2 min, rest 2 min, repeat 3- 5 times. These are examples of interval training.
  3. women weight liftingGood, old-fashioned weight lifting, a.k.a strength or resistance training is a great way to build muscle and bones, especially if you do standing exercises such as squat to overhead dumbbell presses or multi-directional lunges with dumbbells on your shoulders. You don’t even have to join a health club to do this. You can just get yourself some dumbbells and/or resistance bands and work out at home. Most women do well with a set of 3-pounders, 5-pounders, and 10-pounders. You can work every muscle group using these weights.
  4. Rowing. A lot of people overlook the rowing-machine, a fantastic piece of equipment at the gym. Not only does it give you a full-body workout building muscle, but it’s also a great cardio workout. It’s the perfect tool to use to do interval training, which is what I suggested you do with the jump rope above. Unlike the jump rope, it’s low-impact. With the rowing machine, you can go all out for 30 seconds, go slow for 30-60 seconds, repeat  5-10 times. Combine with three sets of push-ups for a complete full-body workout.
  5. woman running stairsInterval-running. Running is great exercise that keeps your bones strong. However, it is taxing on your joints, especially if you’re on the heavier side. To minimize the repeat impact on your body, consider walking fast for two minutes, then sprint for one. Repeat the sequence 15 times. By now, you have noticed that I keep bringing up interval-style training. This is because doing intervals is the most efficient way to burn calories while also maintaining your muscle mass. In some cases, the interval itself, if you do it hard enough, will build muscle. Learn more about interval-training here.
  6. Yoga. Yoga is great because it uses your own bodyweight to strengthen your body and core, while also making your mind relax. It makes you flexible and strengthens your bones. A lot of the poses help your balance. As we age, our sense of balance declines (Ref), and our risk of falling and breaking bones increases. Prevention is key to fight this. Start the prevention early! Include some rowing exercise with your yoga, as the poses work primarily your front/pushing muscles. Rowing works your pulling muscles.
  7. women spin classSpinning/biking.Spinning or biking outside is great cardio exercise that also strengthens your legs, butt, and core (if you stand up in the saddle). Unlike running, it’s low-impact. Doing it in a class setting is often more motivating and fun. If spinning is your favorite exercise, include some rowing exercises for your back and push-ups for your chest and core, and you’ve worked out your entire body.
  8. Cross-training. Because we are more prone to injury as we age (which take longer to heal), make sure you cross-train. In fact, overuse injuries such as knee and shoulder issues are very common. You find something you love to do, and then you do it over and over and over. That’s a recipe for disaster. (Ref) The best way to avoid overuse injuries is to mix it up. Don’t just swim. Do some weight training too. Don’t just run. Also use the rowing machine and spin. You get the idea.

Julia Derek
I’d like to thank Julia Derek for writing this blog post. Julia is a trainer with 20 years of experience. She currently works at Equinox Sports Club as a senior trainer. When she doesn’t train clients or work out, she spends her time writing twisty thrillers. She is open to new clients and does home visit at a reasonable rate. If  you’re looking for a good but also entertaining trainer, contact her through her website: JuliaDerek.com  FYI … I sent quite a few clients to Julia for personal training and got great feedback!



I especially love problem-solving, whether it’s helping women defeat issues plaguing them for years, helping a busy executive find practical ways to get heart healthy, or providing tips to help you reverse diabetes. That’s why I’m on a constant quest to expand my knowledge by staying on top of the latest research.

  • Martha's Nutrition Page

    Looking for up to date information on nutrition?  Follow my nutrition page!

  • PCOS Nutrition

    Interested in the latest PCOS nutrition news?  Follow my PCOS page!

  • Twitter

  • Instagram

  • Pinterest

Leave a Comment


20 Ways To Eat Out 550 Calories or Less!

No time to cook? We’ve got you covered. Here are 20 healthy meals from a variety of cuisines that won’t pack on the pounds. Most of them also have less than 30 grams of carbs.

Subscribe to my newsletter and get this free download.

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.