Always check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.

Here is a question from a reader of mine on Over-40 Fitness

Q: I noticed in my mid-forties that I began to gain weight more easily. Five years later, I’m carrying an extra 25 pounds! I don’t have much time to spare. Can you tell me how to make the most of about two hours a week?

A: At midlife, most women start to fight the battle of the bulge-even if it has never been a problem before. In fact, midlife changes make fitness more of a health concern than ever before. In other words, exercise efforts should no longer be seen as weight-loss centered. They benefit your whole life more than ever.

Midlife Fitness Issues: The Problem

At midlife, some of the biological changes that women experience can be addressed with a fitness routine. These changes include the following:
• metabolism slows down, making it easier to gain weight;
• lean body mass decreases, contributing to the slowing of metabolism and threatening our capabilities;
• estrogen levels decrease leaving us at greater risk of osteoporosis.

Midlife Fitness Issues: The Solution

Luckily, the changes described above can be offset with regular resistance training, and cardio activity, and flexibility training.
Strength training is indispensable as our birthdays stack up because it increase our metabolism. Quite simply, the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, even at rest. Strength training also maintains or replaces lean body mass, ensuring that you will continue to be capable in so many ways (from opening jars and lifting suitcases to maintaining healthy balance) as you move forward with your life. Last but not least, resistance training improves bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis.

Cardio training is important because it:
• increases your metabolism
• helps you to lose body fat
• enhances respiratory function
• improves immune function
• minimizes joint stress

Flexibility and stretching is as important as the other components of exercise. It has the following benefits:
• improves and optimizes joint mobility
• reduces stress and anxiety
• support muscle recovery, (You may not be as sore after the workout.)
• increases your range of motion

The ideal workout for a woman in your situation (1-2 fitness hours per week) will have the following characteristics:
• You can do it at home. You don’t want to waste any of your precious time driving to a gym.
• It will combine cardio and resistance training for a full-body, multi-joint workout.
• Each workout will only take about 30 minutes. This ensures that you can repeat the workout 3-4 times per week. (This will benefit you more than one 2-hour workout.)