The Best Exercise for Your Age
Left: tetmc/istockphoto / Right: Susan Chiang/istockphoto
What to do: Regular strength training
Why: Not for the reason you think: You'll give your brain a lift. Women in their 60s and 70s who lifted weights twice a week had fewer white matter lesions on their brains, a warning sign of cognitive decline that is also connected to a higher risk of dangerous falls, according to a study in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society. Those who strength-trained only once a week didn't see the same benefits.
The Plan: Using medium-heavy weights (you should be able to do 10 reps of each move before you need a break), do a variety of moves that work your whole body for 40 minutes, twice a week. Here are a few exercises to get you started: this move that works your arms and abs at the same time; a great shoulder toner; and this combo exercise that strengthens your entire lower body.
What to do: Light activity like walking and gardening
Why: Weight gain after menopause—especially extra weight around your midsection—can increase your risk for health problems like diabetes, heart disease and even certain cancers. It's easier to gain weight after menopause, but there is a silver lining: It's also easier to lose it. Even light physical activity, like walking and gardening, has a bigger impact on the weight and belly fat of post-menopausal women than younger women (per new research presented at the annual meeting of the North American Menopause Society.)
The Plan: Find an activity that gets you up and moving regularly and try to commit to 30 minutes of it every day.