Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

What Are the Best Exercises for Women Over 40?

Avatar

By: Erin Coleman, B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.,

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

best exercises for women

You've reached a certain point in your life and you want to start focusing on your fitness. But where do you begin? What are the best exercises for women over 40?

The best exercises for women over 40 are based on fitness level, whether or not health conditions exist, and weight management goals.

Many fit women over 40 do the same exercises as younger women — or even more intense workouts in some cases.

Vary your workout routine daily to maximize results.

Ready to get started? The best exercises for women over 40 are just ahead!

Before you get started, why not try a quick and easy plan that's designed specifically for busy women like you?

GET YOUR FREE
“FIT MOM” JUMPSTART
(MEAL PLAN + WORKOUT)

Let us show you how you can start losing weight this week! We'll email you our free meal plan & workout + email coaching.

YES! GET MY FREE PLAN

GET YOUR FREE
“FIT MOM” JUMPSTART
(MEAL PLAN + WORKOUT)

Cardiovascular Exercises for Women Over 40

Regular cardiovascular workouts are the key to a healthy heart for women over 40.

You might be surprised to learn that heart disease is a leading cause of death for women.

In fact, 1 out of every 4 women in the U.S. dies from heart disease.

Choose a cardiovascular workout you most enjoy, and change things up often.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020 suggest adults complete at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity (or 74 minutes of vigorous-intensity) aerobic exercise each week, and at least 300 minutes of moderate-intensity (or 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity) aerobic exercise weekly for more extensive health benefits.

Working out more than this may provide additional health and wellness benefits.

Adults ages 65 and older should follow the same guidelines if they can, or modify workouts to ensure safety during exercise.

This video will teach you how to do HIIT and LISS cardio workouts at home.

 

Swimming

Swimming is a high calorie-burning workout that’s easy on the joints — which is key if you’re suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, another form of arthritis, or have an injury.

A 155-pound woman burns about 409 calories in just 30 minutes swimming the crawl or butterfly strokes.

The same 155-pound woman expends about 372 calories in 30 minutes swimming the breaststroke.

Cycling

Whether you join a cycling class or head outdoors to train, cycling is a calorie-burning, sculpting workout you’ll get results from.

It’s easy on your joints, so you don’t have to worry as much about overuse injuries.

A 155-pound woman burns about 260 to 391 calories in just 30 minutes of bicycling, depending on workout intensity.

Rollerblading

Some of the most enjoyable exercises for women over 40 are those that take you back to your childhood years.

Rollerblading (or roller or ice skating) does just that for many women.

Rollerblading works well for many women over 40 (as long as you don’t lose your balance) because it’s generally a moderate intensity workout that’s easy on the joints.

A 155-pound woman burns about 260 calories rollerblade skating for 30 minutes.

Elliptical Machine Workouts

Using an elliptical machine is often less stressful on your bones and joints than other cardiovascular workouts, so it is the perfect choice for women over 40.

Elliptical machine workouts help women weighing 155 pounds burn about 335 calories in just 30 minutes.

The more you weigh, the more calories you’ll expend working out at the same speed and intensity as someone smaller.

No equipment? No problem! Try this 15-minute HIIT workout for women that can be done at home with no equipment!

 

Stair Climbing

While you may not burn quite as many calories stair climbing as you would doing other workouts (a 155-pound woman burns about 223 calories in 30 minutes on a stair climber machine), this form of cardiovascular workout tightens and tones as you go.

Your butt and leg muscle definition may drastically increase after just a few weeks of regular stair climbing sessions.

Walking Uphill

Walking is one of the best aerobic exercises for women over 40 because it’s easy on the joints and isn’t necessary a high-intensity exercise (though you can make it intense by pumping up the pace).

Walking is an excellent weight loss workout, especially if you’re new to regular exercise.

To add some intensity and resistance, burn extra calories, and boost muscle definition, choose an outdoor walking path packed with hills — or use a steep incline during walking treadmill workouts.

Rope Jumping

Believe it or not, the favorite childhood pastime of jumping rope is an excellent calorie-burning exercise for women over 40.

A 155-pound woman burns 372 calories in just 30 minutes while rope jumping.

It’s easy to jump rope at home or when you’re traveling.

Even if you don’t own a jump rope, you can go through rope jumping motions to reap the same calorie-burning and toning benefits this exercise offers.

No time to workout? Try this quick 10-minute workout!

 

Strength Training Exercises for Women Over 40

One of the best ways to boost strength and endurance for your entire body — and save you countless hours in the gym — is by choosing functional fitness exercises that work more than one muscle group at once.

Many of these workouts are done using just your own body weight, or with light dumbbell weights as added resistance.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020 recommend adults complete muscle-strengthening workouts (using all major muscle groups) at least two days each week.

Here are some of the top functional strength training exercises for women over 40.

Jumping Burpees

If you’re looking for a way to get your heart pumping and boost muscle definition, add jumping burpees to your regular workout routine to get results quickly.

A 2015 study published in Military Medicine found that high-intensity interval training consisting of alternating 30 seconds of burpees with periods of active recovery maintained fitness levels in moderately-trained adults who didn't have access to workout equipment.

  • To complete jumping burpees, do a pushup and immediately jump up into the air with your arms extended toward the ceiling.
  • Jump back down into a plank position, do another pushup, and repeat jumping burpees continuously for 30 seconds (or longer).
  • Alternate doing burpees with short rest periods, or with other calisthenics exercises between burpees sets to maximize results.

Squat to Press (Thrusters)

Doing a squat to press exercise combines two workouts in one, allowing you to exercise multiple muscle groups at the same time.

  • Use light dumbbell weights for this exercise.
  • With dumbbells in your hands, squat down until your thighs are about parallel with the floor.
  • When you stand up from your squat, lift the dumbbells above your head and complete a shoulder press.
  • Repeat this exercise for two to four sets, doing at least 15 repetitions per set.

Renegade Rows

When you’re ready to work your abs and strengthen and tone your shoulders, consider adding renegade rows to your regular workout routine.

  • Begin in a plank position (an extended pushup position) with light dumbbells underneath your hands.
  • Do a row with one arm while still in a plank position.
  • Then do a row with your other arm and alternate sides continuously for at least 10 to 15 reps.
  • Dumbbell weights are optional when completing renegade rows, as using your own body weight as resistance works well too.

Try this full-body dumbbell workout for women! All you need is a set of dumbbells and some floor space!

 

Plank Exercises

Plank workouts are some of the best exercises for women over 40, because they strengthen, tighten, and tone your entire body — especially your abs.

Simply hold a plank position (an extended pushup position) for 30 to 60 seconds, do renegade rows in a plank position without weights, slowly rock your hips from side to side, or do mountain climbers while in a plank position to keep your midsection slim and trim.

Try placing your feet on gliding disks when going mountain climbers to really feel your ab muscles working.

Kettlebell Swings

You’ll need a kettlebell to complete kettlebell swing exercises (a dumbbell weight works too if you don’t have a kettlebell).

  • Squat down while holding your kettlebell with your arms straight and downward, and swing the kettlebell up toward the ceiling as you stand up until your arms and legs are fully extended.
  • Squat back down, and repeat continuously for 30 to 60 seconds at least two times.

Squat Kicks

To tighten, tone, and strengthen your legs and butt using just your own bodyweight, consider adding squat kicks to your regular fitness routine.

  • Squat down until your thighs are about parallel with the floor, and kick up and out in front of you with one leg as you stand up from your squat (like you’re kickboxing).
  • Squat down again and kick up and out with your opposite leg this time.
  • Do this continuously for 30 to 60 seconds (or longer if you can), and complete at least two sets of the exercise.

Try incorporating these free weight exercises for women into your workouts!

 

Alternating Squat Jumps

Squat jumps tighten and tone, and this exercise really gets your blood pumping!

  • Begin by squatting, but jump when you stand up from your squat.
  • Complete a squat jump with your legs slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, and do the very next squat jump with your feet almost touching.
  • Continue alternating wide-stand squat jumps with narrow-stance squats for at least 30 to 60 seconds.

Alternating Jumping Lunges

Complete jumping lunges using your own body weight (or hold light dumbbell weights for added resistance) as an alternative to squat jumps.

Or, complete both exercises if you’re really feeling energized.

  • Get into a lunge position with your right leg out in front of you, and quickly jump up to switch lunge positions so your left leg is out in front of you this time.
  • Do this continuously for 30 to 60 seconds, and repeat at least two times.

Gliding Disk Abdominal Exercises

Use gliding fitness disks to complete a variety of abdominal exercises, trim your midsection, and strengthen your core.

  • Begin in a plank position with one gliding disk under each foot.
  • Slowly move your feet (keeping your legs straight) apart and back together continuously for 30 to 60 seconds.
  • You can also bend your knees to move both feet toward your chest (then immediately get back into a plank position) continuously to change things up.
  • Or, remain in a plank position but place the gliding disks under your hands instead.
  • Keeping your arms straight, slowly move one hand to the side or out in front of you, and back into a plank position.
  • Complete the same movement with your other hand, and repeat the exercises for at least 30 seconds (or at least 10 repetitions for each hand).

Hanging Knee Raises or Leg Raises

Hanging knee raises and leg raises both work your abs, so try one or the other (or both) to keep your midsection slim and trim.

You’ll need a pull-up bar to complete hanging knee raises.

  • Simply hang with your feet dangling down, lift your knees up toward your chest, and slowly lower your legs back down.
  • Repeat this movement at least 10 times or as many times as you can.

If you don’t have a pull-up bar, try this:

  • Lay flat on your back with your legs straight out in front of you.
  • Lift your legs (keeping them as straight as possible) up toward the ceiling until your legs form a 90-degree angle with the floor.
  • Lower your legs back down toward the ground until they almost touch; then repeat continuously for at least 30 seconds.

This full-body, at-home dumbbell workout for women is a great, quick strength training workout!

 

Flexibility Exercises for Women Over 40

Flexibility exercises for women over 40 are just as important aerobic and strength-training workouts.

These exercises help prevent injury, lower stress, and allow you to complete other workouts with ease.

Pilates

A 2016 study published in the Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation found that doing Pilates helps reduce menopausal symptoms and boosts strength and flexibility in post-menopausal women.

Even if you’re over 40 and haven’t yet hit menopause, doing Pilates regularly works wonders for increased flexibility, improved posture, and better balance.

You’ll complete a variety of low-impact stretching and strengthening exercises during Pilates workouts.

Yoga

Yoga combines meditation with controlled breathing, relaxation techniques, and physical poses to boost strength and flexibility.

But yoga does more than just burn extra calories and improve flexibility, which is why it’s one of the best exercises for women over 40.

Yoga appears to help lower blood pressure and reduce stress — plus it’s relaxing.

Even beginners can enjoy yoga, and all of the health and wellness benefits yoga offers.

Band-Assisted Stretching

Believe it or not, stretching helps you burn extra calories, increases feelings of relaxation, and aids in injury prevention.

For best results, stretch most days of the week.

Band-assisted stretching helps you achieve a deeper stretch, without much (if any) extra effort.

If you’re recovering from an injury, ask your doctor which band-assisted stretches you should do, or request stretching assistance from a trained professional.

Try this amazing 20-minute resistance band leg workout for women at home!

 

Starting a New Workout Program

Starting a new workout program when you’re over 40 might seem like a daunting task.

When you join the Fit Mother Project (FM30X), you'll learn diet and exercise tips designed to keep you healthy for a lifetime.

Start small and work your way up to 150 to 300 minutes of exercise each week.

Even getting in small amounts of exercise is better than nothing, and can reduce chronic disease risks.

Remember, you don’t have to work out at high intensities to reap the health and wellness benefits of the best exercises for women over 40!

Avatar
Erin Coleman

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian with over 15 years of freelance writing experience.

She graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in nutritional science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and completed her dietetic internship at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Prior to beginning her career in medical content writing, Erin worked as Health Educator for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Internal Medicine.

Her published work appears on hundreds of health and fitness websites, and she’s currently working on publishing her first book! Erin is a wife, and a Mom to two beautiful children.

If you’re a busy mom who wants to finally lose weight, get healthy, and actually keep the pounds off for good, this is the simple program you’ll love sticking to…

Our Fit Mother 30X Program (FM30X) is the answer you’ve been looking for. Inside FM30X, you’ll receive:

  • The simple & delicious Fit Mother Meal Plan with easy recipes for you and your family.
  • The metabolism-boosting Fit Mother 30X Workout (under 90 min/week) to kickstart your metabolism for fast fat burning.
  • VIP email coaching where we’ll personally walk you through the program.
Learn More About FM30X

If you’re a busy mom who wants to finally lose weight, get healthy, and actually keep the pounds off for good, this is the simple program you’ll love sticking to…

Our Fit Mother 30X Program (FM30X) is the answer you’ve been looking for. Inside FM30X, you’ll receive:

  • The simple & delicious Fit Mother Meal Plan with easy recipes for you and your family.
  • The metabolism-boosting Fit Mother 30X Workout (under 90 min/week) to kickstart your metabolism for fast fat burning.
  • VIP email coaching where we’ll personally walk you through the program.
Learn More About FM30X

*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on the best exercises for women.

Join Fit Father 30X

The World’s First Weight Loss Program for Men 40+

Lose Weight. Keep it Off.

Fit Mother Project Fact-Checking Standards

Our Fit Mother Project Team’s deepest commitment is to helping you live healthier for both yourself and your family. And when it comes to online content, integrity and trust is everything. That’s why our Fit Mother Project staff-writers are all trained professionals in the field of health and wellness (registered dieticians, licensed personal trainers, and licensed physicians) – see the full team here. We rigorously run all of our articles through a rigorous editorial process to ensure the accuracy, simplicity, and utility of the information. And we aren’t just a team of “academics” sitting in an ivory tower. We are real people – with jobs, responsibilities, and families – working hard in the trenches and testing our tips & methods out to make sure you can stay healthy for family.

Here is what you can expect from us on our Fit Mother Blog and YouTube channel:

  1. All of our content is written and reviewed by licensed health professionals (dieticians, personal trainers, doctors).
  2. In nearly all of our articles, we link to published research studies from the most respected peer-reviewed medical & health journals.
  3. We include research-based videos to accompany our articles to make it easier for you to consume our content, put it into action, and see results.
  4. Inside our articles & videos, we do promote our free meal plans, workouts, and/or paid programs, because we know they have the potential to change your life.
  5. We openly take feedback here on our contact page. We welcome your content suggestions… and even feedback on grammar (we’d like to thing that we’re pretty OK at spelling and “stuff”).
  6. Above all, we are a community of likeminded men and women committed to living healthier. We do not advocate any health advice that we wouldn’t personally implement with our families. Because as far as we’re concerned, you’re our family too.

Thanks for checking out the blog. We can’t wait to support you toward greater health, energy, and vitality.

– The Fit Mother Project Team

 

Terms of Service & Privacy Policy