25 May, 2023

It’s entirely possible to be fit and feel great at any age. Exercise for women in their 40s doesn’t have to be a chore.  

We know everyone’s exercise journeys are different – physical changes, slower metabolisms, hormonal changes, injury, illness, or even just life can get in the way of our daily and weekly routines. But did you know that being physically active can reduce your breast cancer risk by 20%? So, it’s never too late to reduce your risk of breast cancer! 

The older you get, the more susceptible you become to illnesses. Over 95% of breast cancer cases appear in women over 40. But age doesn’t need to be a barrier to help you start your breast cancer prevention journey.  

The exercise itself doesn’t have to be restrictive or demanding. It’s just down to building healthy habits in your daily life. The World Health Organisation recommends you do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity. 

Whether you’re about to enter your 40s, are well acquainted with them, or they’re very much behind you, you can still be in the best shape of your life. If you’re over 40 and looking to start or intensify your workout routine, try these simple tips so you can stay fit and healthy later in life: 

HIIT workouts 

HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) is a popular way of working out. They involve short periods of intense exercise (10 – 30 minutes) alternated with recovery periods. One of the biggest advantages of HIIT is that you can get maximum health benefits in minimal time (perfect for someone on the go). 

HIIT includes: 

  • Spin classes or biking 
  • Skipping (using a rope)  
  • Cardio workouts like squats, burpees or lunges 
  • Treadmill sprints 
  • Boxing 

We recommend using YouTube to find a perfect HIIT beginner series to start your workout routine if working out at home – don’t forget to stretch! 

Get outdoors  

We are a world that drives everywhere – to do the food shop, pick up children, go to work or even to see friends. One study found that as little as an hour of walking per week helps improve survival rates if you have breast cancer, with maximum benefits found in women who walked for 3-5 hours per week. So why not swap the car for a walk instead? 

Walking is low-impact and can be very beneficial if you’re getting back into exercise. It will keep you active and help avoid pains and injuries that can happen when doing high-impact workouts. Start small and try a walk on your lunch break, then to work, and before you know it, you’re racking up miles. 

Even some gardening activities can help keep your body flexible and build muscle strength. You can work out every major muscle group as you stretch, bend, lift, pull and push. One study found that calories burnt from 30 minutes of gardening are comparable to playing a social game like badminton or volleyball or practising yoga. 

Maintaining a healthy weight 

Maintaining the correct weight for your height is an important part of staying fit and healthy and is vital to reducing your risk of breast cancer. There are many reasons why you might put on weight. Inherited genes, lifestyle, and what you eat can all play a part. If you’re unsure whether you are a healthy weight, you can find out by calculating your Body Mass Index. 

A lot of women gain weight as they age. This could be due to metabolism slowing down, menopause and hormones, or life taking over. 

Keeping a healthy weight can sometimes be easier said than done but try only to eat as much as you need – so you don’t gain excess weight. Remember: 

  • The amount you eat is just as important as what you eat 
  • Watch the hidden calories, especially in the food you don’t cook yourself 
  • Stay hydrated with water and avoid sugary drinks 

Muscle strengthening  

You might notice a decline in strength or that maintaining muscle mass is more difficult as you age. According to a study, we lose 3-8% of muscle mass every decade after 30.  

The benefits of strength training include reduced muscle loss, increased bone strength and increased mobility. But maintaining and strengthening your muscles doesn’t mean you need to be bench pressing 100kg daily at the gym.  

Instead, you can focus on exercises like: 

  • Weight training (only do what you can weight-wise) 
  • Swimming 
  • Resistance exercises with bands like push-ups and squats 
  • Water aerobics 
  • Pilates 
  • Tai-chi 
  • Yoga 
  • Body weight exercises – such as push-ups, planks or squats 

Take time to recover 

After 40, rest and recovery are more important than ever to avoid injuries. It’s important to warm up pre-exercise and stretch out as part of your cool-down to help keep you flexible.  Equally important is having rest days between weight or intense workouts such as HIIT for your muscles to recover.  Your recovery should also focus on sleep, hydration and good nutrition. 

Motivation  

The power of the mind can be a trivial factor in how you work out and push yourself to work harder. Speaking negatively towards yourself won’t allow your best self to make changes and set positive goals. 

Visualisation can be a powerful tool for creating the reality you want. By setting goals, you can work towards something. Our new Weekly Wellness Planner can help you keep on track, set weekly goals and monitor your exercise. Motivate yourself to get fit at 40 and beyond. 

Remember, it’s never too late to start 

Experts all agree on this.  Whether you’re a complete newbie or previously enjoyed exercising, incorporating physical activity into your daily life helps you age better. Helping to reduce your risk of illnesses such as breast cancer. 

So even if you start with just 10mins a day, this can help you on the path to a happier, healthier midlife! 

For more information, advice, and tips on physical activity and how to reduce your risk of breast cancer – see here. 

Want to find out what changes you could make to reduce your risk? – Take our quiz 



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