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Walking Over 50 is Great for Weight Loss and Mental Health
You guys, here on the Pahla B Fitness blog, we are all about making peace with your menopausal body by finding a healthy weight and moving through the world in ways that feel like love. And you know what feels like love?
I remember when I was a kid, my grandmother abruptly decided to start walking every day. In my mind, I would describe it as “abruptly,” because up until then, to the best of my knowledge, she’d never exercised a day in her life, and I wouldn’t characterize our family in general as being “sporting” or “athletic.” But here she was, taking up the daily sport of walking at 67 years old.
I’m pretty sure she started walking to lose weight, though I also suspect that there were some mental health benefits she was seeking, too.
She and my grandfather were slowing down after having traveled the world for many years, and I know she liked being busy and social. So I think going out for a walk in the neighborhood every day was a good way to spend her time and maybe even chat with the neighbors a little, too.
And if I’m remembering correctly, she DID lose a bit of weight, maybe ten or fifteen pounds.
So, walking was great for her!
One of the things we need to do to make peace with our menopausal bodies is accept the fact that things are changing. Like, biologically.
But Walking isn’t Enough to Protect your Bone Health Over 50
As we go through menopause, one of the most significant changes we experience is the loss of estrogen. Now, of course you know that estrogen plays a significant role in your menstrual cycle, but do you know how much it’s been doing all these years for your muscles and bones, too?
Two of estrogen’s main jobs, in fact, were to help your muscles recover and repair themselves after exercise, and to help your bones stay strong and dense.
So, over here in Menopauseland, with dwindling or non-existent estrogen, suddenly we’re LOSING muscle tone and bone density. Without intervention, we very naturally become weaker and more at risk of falls and broken bones because of sarcopenia (loss of muscle tissue) and osteoporosis (loss of bone density).
The three most common places osteoporosis shows up are in the spine, the hips and the wrists – because, generally speaking, your hips and wrists are the bones that will break from a fall.
So what do we need to do to prevent this and stay strong on our feet?
But, wait… Walking is exercise! Why doesn’t that help?
My friends, it DOES. But, all by itself, walking is not enough.
Why Walking Isn’t Enough
My grandmother walked for years and years, and was one of those spry old ladies who could still get up and down from the ground in her eighties! Walking kept her strong and fit and healthy.
Until, from my perspective, she abruptly wasn’t.
Suddenly, she was in pain. Suddenly, she could barely get out of her bed or a chair, let alone go for a walk.
Somewhere around her late 70s, my grandmother was diagnosed with osteoporosis. My mom still vividly remembers seeing the x-rays of my grandmother’s spine, and she told me it looked like the bones had just crumbled into pieces.
My sweet grandmother – the one who taught me how to knit and how to cook and how to command some respect for your elders with a single look – spent the last three years of her life in bed, heavily medicated to try and help with her pain, and unable to do much of anything any more.
So, why wasn’t walking enough to save her from that pain?
Well, honestly, she probably WAS spared from an earlier diagnosis and possibly more pain, BECAUSE of the walking.
Super quickly! Here’s the part of the blog where I’m going to remind you that I’m NOT a doctor and of course you should take your particular concerns to YOUR health care professional. What I’m telling you here is really general advice about preventing the loss of muscle tissue and bone density.
Yes, those two things really do go hand in hand.
Strong muscles and muscle tone help protect your bones from impact
The exercises that build strong muscles also build strong bones, through the same sort of biological mechanics. By putting a little bit of exercise stress on your muscles and bones, you set off the chain reaction that helps them repair themselves even stronger than they were before.
So, what kinds of over 50 workouts do you need to be doing?
1. WALKING! Because it really is good for you! Specifically, it’s great for your lower body – walking helps your legs, your hips and the lower part of your spine stay strong.
2. STRENGTH TRAINING! Resistance training with hand weights has been proven to help maintain and even build muscle mass and bone density when done regularly. Meaning 2 or 3 times a week. And because we generally carry weights in our hands for this type of work, it will help keep your upper back, shoulders, arms and wrists safe from muscle and bone loss.
3. BALANCE PRACTICE! You weren’t expecting this one, were you? But my friends, practicing your balance even a little bit every day can help prevent you from falling, helps keep your spine in position, improves your posture and works the all-important brain-body connection that can keep you independent and mobile for years to come.
My grandmother has been gone for almost twenty years, and she was raised in a time when it wouldn’t have occurred to her to lift weights! It just wasn’t done.
But now? You have all these over 50 workout tips right here at your fingertips, and I have hundreds of follow-along videos that can help you WALK, or LIFT WEIGHTS or PRACTICE your BALANCE.
In fact, the workouts that are so great for weight loss before, during and after menopause in The 5-0 Method? They’re the PERFECT mix of exercises to help you stay strong, healthy and on your feet as long as possible. Download The 5-0 Method now (it’s free!), and I’ll see you in the videos!