Why exercise is more important than ever for women over 40

Over 40? Exercise in 2022 could keep you fit and healthy for life, according to science

Woman over 40 doing exercises
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It can be hard to form new habits, especially in later life. In our forties, we've often got a very full life and many responsibilities to juggle, and it can be tough to find the time, or the motivation, to work out. 

If that sounds like you, it's time to make 2022 your year. Grab one of those best exercise machines to lose weight, stick it in your garage or front room and prepare to sweat, as studies have found doing more exercise in our forties can pay dividends down the road. 

The information has come from the School of Health Sciences at Örebro University (opens in new tab), Sweden. Researchers there examined the exercise patterns of middle-aged women and monitored them as they aged to determine how this affected cardiovascular health, muscle mass and more. 

To do this, they used the MET minute formula, which calculates how much energy your body expends at rest. This increases when you exercise, as your body continues to expend energy after you finish your workout, sometimes for hours. 

Senior woman exercising

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The researchers found that "participants accumulating at least 600 MET-min of exercise-related activities [per week] during middle-age years had higher aerobic fitness (P < 0.01) and SMI (P < 0.05) at old age compared to their less active peers". 

These findings were irrespective of exercise done as a senior, so the healthier you get today, the better condition your heart and body will be in tomorrow even if you do eventually stop working out entirely. The benefits are lifelong, and more than enough to warrant lacing up a pair of the best running shoes for women.

However, there is admittedly a tradeoff: The research found muscle mass and maximal strength in old age are actually unaffected. This could be due to muscular atrophy or conditions such as sarcopenia, so you'll also need to incorporate some resistance training into your routine to maintain strength.

Good strength as you age is very important, and not just for bodybuilders and bricklayers. Grip strength was found to be a huge predictor of general health in later life, and core strength helps you maintain good balance and mobility. A healthy muscle is also a well-stretched muscle, increasing your range of motion as well as strength. Our best resistance bands are a great choice for flexing and stretching those muscles.

Matt Evans
News Editor

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and News Editor at Fit&Well, covering all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.