As we age, many things change. Our complexion has a few more sunspots, our mentality relaxes (hopefully), and our appetite starts craving wholesome foods; however, one of the most prominent changes happens with how our body responds to exercise and food, especially for women over 50.
“Women in their early 40s often approach me for advice,” said Phyllis Kornblatt, a personal trainer, and the creator of Follow Phyllis based in Monmouth County, New Jersey, who focuses on “fitness over 50” advice. “Many women don’t work out, or don’t know how to, and they may find that the signs of aging have sped up.”
Whether they’re beginning a new routine, jump-starting an old one, or stuck in a rut, women can find that their bodies are reacting differently after menopause, new injuries, or diagnoses. Kornblatt, who has a background in body building, has always been active, however, after a recent hip surgery, she realized that listening to her body was one of the most important parts of her routine towards getting back in shape.
“Many women just don’t understand what their body needs to transform,” said Kornblatt. “There’s so much misinformation, especially as you age, as to what to do physically and nutritionally to maintain a good balance.”
Luckily for us, Kornblatt shared her top four tips for aging with grace and strength. After getting a physical exam and the green light from your doctor, see what these tips can do for your fitness:
Set a Realistic Goal: We all have our limits, and by understanding them, we can not only succeed, but help our bodies in the process. Kornblatt suggests first focusing on what you can realistically expect, and how much time you can actually dedicate to a fitness program.
“Set goals that are small, then you’re always a winner,” said Kornblatt. “The biggest mistake you can make is to set yourself up for failure. It’s nice when your jeans zip up, but that doesn’t mean you’re actually healthy.”
Start Small: Depending on your fitness, whether you’re starting at zero or ten, begin with small steps, which can literally mean just starting a walking program. Jumping right into a high impact class is a big no-go, according to Kornblatt, especially for those over 50 because of the number of injuries that can result from repeated stress on the joints.
Starting from where you are, instead of where you want to be, will also help keep you active in the long run, as you won’t get frustrated when you’re asked to do that one-hundreth push up on your second day of your workout routine and then end up with a torn ligament in your shoulder.
Build Up With Resistance Training: Often times, women (and men) of all ages work out to “lose pounds,” focusing mainly on cardio and avoiding weight training, which can be intimidating. Kornblatt focuses on the importance of resistance training in complement to cardio, because it helps build strong bones, increase muscles, and when done following proper alignment, protects the joints.
“I’m an old-school body builder,” said Kornblatt. “Not Arnold Schwarzenegger type. When you do resistance training properly, it helps to reshape the body. Pear shapes can build upper body strength and posture, creating an illusion of an hourglass figure.” (Check out this video for a small introduction on the importance of alignment.)
Eating Healthy: This may come as no surprise, but what you put in your mouth is directly linked to what your body looks and feels like. However, sometimes the whole “eating healthy” thing can cause major anxiety and a deep longing for a large hamburger with fries. According to Kornblatt, what makes many of us “go bad” when we’re trying to be healthy angels is that we give up everything. Instead, she suggests picking one food that you know isn’t good for you – like chips – and eliminating it. But, if you happen to down an entire bag of salt and vinegar chips while watching the latest Game of Thrones, don’t beat yourself up. Just start again and give yourself a break.
Turns out getting fit after 50 isn’t so different from getting fit at any other point in your life. It’s all about listening to your body, knowing and defining your limits and goals, and mindfully taking care of yourself. We can all learn from Kornblatt’s advice, not just those approaching 50 or feeling confused and upset from lack of results; set your goals, start small, add weight, and focus on nutrition. These are four very simple steps so you can get down with your fit self!
Hero (Top) Feature Image: © creativedeb / Adobe Stock
Additional Images Courtesy: Phyllis Kornblatt