Focusing on quantity rather than quality
Too often we gauge the effectiveness of our workout based on how long we exercise for. Two hours of exercise is not necessarily better than 30 minutes and especially during menopause - sometimes less is more.
Instead of pushing yourself through longer sessions, focus on doing each exercise with the correct technique. You’ll get more out of your workout and activate more muscles by doing five full depth squats than you will doing twice as many squats at a quarter of the depth. Not moving your body correctly during the exercises could also create muscle imbalances and make you prone to injuries.
“As we get older, our body’s recovery process slows down drastically,” says personal trainer Clint Ashton, founder of Absolute Health and Fitness. “You can no longer recover at 40 or 50 like you did when you were 20 or even 30. And it's during recovery that most of the benefits from exercise are gained. This is when muscle is made, fat is burnt and muscles, tendons and joints are repaired.”
Thinking pain is good
You may think that if you're not sore after a workout, it wasn't effective. Or that pain equals progress. This isn’t always the case.
“The main thing that gauges whether your workouts are effective is progression, and definitely NOT soreness,” says Ashton. “If you are progressing with variables like load lifting with resistance based exercises, or total distance covered in a certain time frame with cardio, or increasing your reps on a certain exercise, this is the main thing.”
You may be sore after doing a certain exercise for the first time in months. This is because your body is not used to it. But after a few weeks you'll notice the pain will fade as your body adapts to the movement. If you are always sore after your workouts, you may be over training, and or not taking time to recover correctly. (Sleep and a good diet can make a huge difference).
“Listen to your body above all else. If something doesn't feel right - it likely isn't right,” says Ashton.
If you are feeling joint pain during or after any exercise, get a professional to monitor your form and make any needed changes. Make small modifications and before you know it you are pain free and moving more freely.
You may be diligent in hitting the cross trainer or doing your morning walk, but don’t forget about resistance training. Cardio has many benefits, but resistance training helps to build bone density - which begins to decline once you hit your 40s. Stronger and denser bones can prevent osteoporosis and further injury.
Big compound movements like squats, deadlifts, bench presses, and rowing movements have the most positive effect on bone density as they provide more of a load on your skeletal system that isolated exercises like bicep curls.
Work your body as a whole unit rather than in separate body parts as full-body routines are generally easier on your joints and more beneficial in terms of bone density and fat burning.