Maximizing Fat Loss and Health with Exercise for Older Women

As we age, some goals change, and some stay the same, and this certainly holds true with exercise. Controlling our weight and having a healthy figure is something we tend to pursue throughout our lifetime, but as we age more emphasis is put on staying healthy. So what’s the most effective exercise for older women?

After looking through the research, it’s clear that there are two points we need to keep in mind regarding health and exercise for older women if we want to get the figure of our dreams, and stay on top of our health:

use a timer to workout in intervals and rev up your metabolism

The Right Dose

Exercise should be performed in the right dose to be effective. Too much or too little, and we sacrifice the effectiveness of our workout and may increase the risk of dropping out of our workout program too quickly.

So, what do we mean by the right dose and how much exercise is needed? Well, in the DREW study1, the largest controlled exercise study ever performed on aging women, we observed that too little exercise resulted in much smaller boosts in health. This seems obvious: less exercise = less benefits. However, what was surprising from this study was that too much exercise didn’t improve health any more than the right amount. So they extra effort didn’t pay off, and this could lead to early dropout rates for any workout program. So, finding the right amount of exercise is key, and working with fitness professionals who track how much exercise you should be doing is important to achieving your best.

Interval Training

Interval training is better than continuous. So whatever exercise you choose to do, go for shorter bursts (usually around a minute) followed by recovery.

What is interval training?

Interval training has become a mainstay with most professional and competitive athletes, and for good reason – it appears to make the body go through changes more quickly and to a greater extent than moderate intensity endurance exercise2. That means that your metabolism speeds up more quickly and more effectively3 with interval training, and this ultimately is what controls your weight. Also, don’t skimp on the recovery side. Having your energy back to go harder on the next set is good for your performance, and letting your body recover lets it work through anti-inflammatory processes that helps your body heal and stay young. So try to get back to full strength when recovering, and then hit a high peak on your next set.

So remember, do intervals, and do them in the right doses. Also, look for programs that specialize in exercise for older women. Working with professional trainers or programs can mean the difference between great progress, and hitting a plateau after a few months.

About the Author: Ryan Freilino works at, is a grad student in physiology, and specializes in health and wellness content.

1 Earnest, C. P., Lavie, C. J., Blair, S. N., & Church, T. S. (2008). Heart Rate Variability Characteristics in Sedentary Postmenopausal Women Following Six Months of Exercise Training: The DREW Study. Plos Clinical Trials, 5(6), 1-7. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002288
2 Interval vs. Endurance Training. 2009. CBS News via the Associated Press.

3 Peter W.R. Lemon, et al. “Two Minutes Of Sprint-Interval Exercise Elicits 24-Hr Oxygen Consumption Similar To That Of 30 Min Of Continuous Endurance Exercise.” International Journal Of Sport Nutrition & Exercise Metabolism 22.4 (2012): 276-283. Academic Search Complete. Web. 3 Oct. 2012.

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