The MOST Effective Exercise For Women 40+

We know exercise is one of the best ways to make sure we stay fit and healthy as we age. But with so many options, it can be hard to know what we should be doing to make the most progress in the gym. It can be a struggle for anyone to know what program to follow (read about Erin’s journey here). And since the results we want may take a little longer to achieve once we pass 40, it helps to know ahead of time that our strategy will work. Keep in mind, if you’re new to exercise, have taken a break, or your starting an entirely new method, you’ll want to check with your doctor to make sure you are healthy enough for the exercise. Also make sure you do not have any underlying, contraindicating conditions. Here are the most effective exercise methods for women over 40. 

most effective exercise methods for women over 40, Woman with curly chin-length hair in pink sports bra doing curl

#1 | Weight Training

Weight training is an effective exercise for women over 40 because it helps build lean muscle mass. When you increase muscle mass, you have a higher afterburn of calories. This means that after you exercise, the more lean muscle you have, the longer those muscles are burning calories at a higher rate than the rest of your body.

It’s not a miracle, though. Think an extra 30 minutes after, not hours after excersising. And it does vary from person-to-person, so beware of someone giving you an exact ratio without seeing your body – but it does help. 

most effective exercise methods for women over 40, Black woman with red hair in black sports bra in front of blonde woman in peach bra at barre

#2 | Pilates/ Barre Work/ Yoga

These three exercise methods are effective for women over 40 because they use body weight as the resistance to build muscle. This training focuses on creating long, lean body shapes: think “dancer body.” And, like a dancer, these methods improve flexibility and posture which helps you look and feel younger.

In addition, because the weight is bodyweight, it can be easier for beginners to start. The needed equipment investment is low, and the benefits are high. Any weight training, including bodyweight training, improves skeletal strength, reducing the risk for osteoporosis or other age-related bone trauma. 

most effective exercise methods for women over 40, long dark-haired woman in bright pink sports bra and teal leggings with battle ropes

#3 | High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

The goal of this method is to be quick, hard, and done. HIIT workouts are shorter than other methods, which means you focus on creating high energy outputs in less time. By using the short bursts of work to really overload our muscles, the even shorter rest times do not allow you to fully recover. The breakdown of muscles will compound, giving you improvements in your body composition. Another benefit of these types of workouts is that the quick pace of the work adds a cardiovascular element to them. A final plus is that the speed and focus required for HIIT workouts seem to improve mental health.

Good Form Is Crucial

With all of these methods, the focus is on movements. It’s important to remember that as we age, our form is more critical than it is when we are younger. We are more injury-prone. Having someone make sure we are performing the moves properly, at least when we’re starting out, is important. Make sure you start slowly! Any movement is better than no movement, and you’ll get there. Focus on your consistency. 

Have you found an exercise method that works for you that isn’t listed? What methods do you use to stay fit and healthy? Which of these methods do you think you’re most likely to try? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

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Julianna Cario
Julianna Cario is a wife, mom to four boys, and loves learning about all things health and wellness, especially gut-health. Julianna has worked as a freelance writer for nine years and a Secondary English teacher for 13 years. A bread-maker and smeller-of old-books, she can be found barefoot outdoors as much as possible. She believes mindset is everything and relishes the uncomfortable feelings that come with personal growth. And while eggs are her favorite food, if she had one meal remaining, she'd choose grilled salmon served rare.

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