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Ways to Modify Exercise Program For Middle-Aged Women

Updated: Aug 16, 2023

Trainer Cheryl Coppa Shares 4 Ways to Modify Your Exercise Program as You Age

By Cheryl Coppa

What Worked in Your 20s is Not Going to Work After 40

Change and adapt in all aspects of life, it’s how you not only survive but thrive!
As your body starts to change, especially after 40, so should your exercise routine. Change is like getting a new phone with updated features, reflecting the need to adjust your workout routines and nutrition to suit your body's changing needs. Adapt is like learning to use the new phone effectively, symbolizing the ability to embrace new exercises and habits to stay fit and healthy in this new phase of life. Just as the upgraded smartphone enhances daily life, so do the changes we make in our exercises to enjoy life to the fullest.

1. Constant Urge to Pee? Painful Sex? It’s Time For Pelvic Floor Training

The first thing you will want to change or be mindful of is your pelvic floor. It's around this age and beyond, that over 50% of women start to experience things like involuntary leaking of urine, having the urge to go all the time (always looking and knowing where all the bathrooms are), low back pain, painful sex, belly bulging, hip pain and sciatica pain. For the first 40 or 50 decades of your life, you probably didn’t have your pelvic floor in mind. Even if you were active and exercising, this important, constant muscle has always been there but not incorporated properly, so now we are starting to experience the pains listed above. The great news is, we can restore the pelvic floor and learn how to properly use it and preserve it in your daily life and in your fitness routines. It really is life changing when you can control and even completely reverse these symptoms. Restore and rebuild with this program.

2. Your Hormone Levels Are Changing as You Age - You Don’t Need Long Endurance Cardio Sessions

Short, Intense cardio / HIIT Sessions, instead of long endurance cardio sessions. The way we work out is going to be different now. In your 20’s it could have been adding in that extra cardio or run to do the trick. This will not work anymore because of the change in our hormones and cortisol production/levels. Cardio is still very important as we need to have a healthy heart as heart disease is the number one killer in women over 40. There is just a little tweak in how we do it and it’s actually great! It’s going to be more effective if you work in smaller time slots. With cardio in particular, short and intense training is going to be very effective and this is how ALL our cardio and HIIT classes are formatted at Ola Ka Ola. 30 minutes or less at a time instead of long endurance cardio type workouts. Another thing to keep in mind is when we are working cardio or HIIT, it also includes mobility, strength, balance, and flexibility. Much different than repetitive motions you might do on a treadmill or elliptical.

Even though I am mentioning the word “intense” this doesn't mean burpees and jumping lunges. Actually, I have not done these types of exercises since all the Core and pelvic floor training I received. It’s not that you can’t do these things, if you love them and you are not hurting yourself, then more power to you. It’s just at this stage in life it's going to be more beneficial and enjoyable to shift your exercise regime to training for LIFE and independence and freedom and building your body up instead of beating it down in a boot camp training style. There are many more pelvic floor and joint-friendly options you can do. You can have a low-impact workout that gets you all the intensity you want out of cardio without jeopardizing your pelvic floor and your joints.

Cortisol is a buzzword you will hear a lot when it comes to women's fitness over 40. You might even read to avoid cardio because of the increase in cortisol. With short, intense bursts of cardio, you do not have to be concerned about this.
More than anything when it comes to cortisol, (which is a stress hormone) too much sugar, processed carbohydrates, not getting enough sleep, and consuming too much caffeine would be the top contributors to increased cortisol as these are all stressors on the body. Your body is going to process this stress the same way it would process work stress or emotional stress, which would be increased cortisol which would then be increased fat and most likely belly fat. So control the stressors, do the cardio bursts, and have fun because exercise is a stress reliever for all those things.

We can’t mention Cortisol without bringing up sleep! Rest and recovery is another topic for another day but needs to be mentioned; SLEEP to help balance and regulate hormones and cortisol.

3. Focus on Effective Strength Training to Reduce Body Fat, Increase Muscle Mass and Burn Calories

Efficient Strength Training; Getting the most out of your strength training session would be things like compound exercises ( working for more than one muscle group at a time), and hitting the larger muscle groups (like legs and Glutes). The great news here is this will also cut down on the amount of time you spend on fitness. Incorporating these types of exercises is going to give you all the benefits of strength training such as increased bone density, increased muscle mass/tone, less fat, increased energy, and a better calorie burn. This is exactly what we do at Ola, expect to always get the most out of your 30-minute exercise routines. You can get this done both at a Beginner level or a more advanced/intermediate level.

4. Oil Your Joints and Keep Your Muscles and Tendons Moving

Flexibility/mobility training! You feel it, tightening up, not able to move as easily. Things are crackling and even popping. We need to oil your joints and keep the muscles and tendons moving with ease. It’s important to know that flexibility, mobility, and strength go hand in hand. One should not be done without the other. So many times women are experiencing tightness in their hamstrings or hip flexors, shoulders, back, hips, and pelvic floor. Besides needing to stretch and release these muscles, they need to be strengthened! It’s the same with stretching, if you are only strengthening and not lengthening you will still run into the aches and pains of the limitations of the way you can move your body. Just think of this as peanut butter and jelly. They just go together :)

What Exercises Should I Do?

You now know the four top changes you should make to feel your best and get the most out of exercising over 40. So now what? What exercises do I do? What stretches do I do? How often should I do them?

Ola Ka Ola has programs designed to take the guesswork out of it for you, a plan is already created for you! This saves you time and saves you money.

If you have any pelvic floor dysfunction symptoms (low back pain, painful sex, leaking of urine, the urgency to go all the time, not emptying your bladder all the way, prolapse, constipation, sciatica, hip pain, butt pain, or pelvic pain), you can reverse these by doing the Core and Pelvic Floor Program. This program can be layered in at any time and is highly recommended to do so.

If you are a brand new Beginner, or it has been a while since you have exercised, we have the LET’S START program. This is a start-to-finish program where you will get ALL these recommendations on how to do them when you just follow the program.

Ready to Level up or already at an intermediate level? We have our Weekly Recommended Workout Plan. You can choose a 6-day plan or a 3-day plan! Both options will give you what we talked about. All the solutions for your body at your stage in life.

About Cheryl Coppa

✔️ A certified Core Confidence Specialist (Core and Pelvic Floor retraining)
✔️ A certified Personal Trainer specializing in women's fitness over 40
✔️ Low-Pressure Fitness / Hypopressive certified by creator Dr. Tamara Rial
✔️ Pre/postnatal corrective exercise specialist
✔️Instructor of the Pelvic Floor Health program, Ola Ka Ola
✔️ 40 years young, wife & mother of 3


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