Health Mistakes Women Make
- “It’s Too Late For Me To Begin A Work Out Regimen”
Many studies show that it is NEVER too late. Some studies even show that beginning exercise at a later age can be particularly beneficial for women. In this article, we’ll take a look at the most common health mistakes women make.
What stops us? On the surface level, it’s a rather convenient excuse, not grounded in any scientific evidence, but rather…well, most exercise seems…difficult. We love our comfort zones and being happy.
On a deeper level, going to a gym can be intimidating and confusing. I was always worried about making a fool of myself with my lack of knowledge on machines and people everywhere looking confident. Bottom line: Most people there are just focusing on themselves. They won’t be paying attention to you.
I know, that’s still NOT reassuring. You’re not alone. Hook up with your friends. If you’re thinking of a gym, go together, and consult with a manager about Small Group Training (specific to your needs). Alternately, network again with friends, and look into hiring a Personal Trainer who can work with two of you. I realize cost is a consideration. Local YMCA’s & other community-based organizations offer good programs. The resources are out there, whatever your budget. Toss aside the excuses. This is a common health mistake women make, and it’s an easy one to avoid.
- Confusing Body Weight with Fitness and Health.
We’re confronted every day with a myriad of magazine covers of bikini-clad women mostly in their mid-20’s to 30’s. And these are WOMEN’S magazines. By women, for women. (Rather mind-blowing, since we’re an aging population.) Time to drop this myth that slim/skinny = ideal. We’re not 20 anymore anyhow. Good thing, too. Celebrate our lives, and move on with improvements when we can. I’ve seen very skinny women who fit into a size 5 dress and have difficulty negotiating stairs. Conversely, I’ve had my ass kicked in classes by women in their 60’s who are rocking some serious Lycra.
Here’s why we need to rid ourselves of this idea that slim/skinny is an ultimate goal. (and we’ll get down and dirty first): Muscle mass begins to decrease as early as our 30’s, and we can lose half a pound of muscle mass on average every year we age. Every year past 20, we can expect a 1-3% increase in body fat. Estrogen fluctuations can lead to increased fat storage. According to the American Council on Exercise, a FIT 50 year old woman’s body fat range is 21-24%, while the average is 25-31%. At ANY age, a body fat percentage ABOVE 30% increases health risks (high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.) Yes, those figures can be discouraging. But being armed with those facts should make us MORE determined to buck any trend that suggests that we can’t be fit, strong and healthy. After 50, we can reverse these health mistakes.
1lb of fat weighs EXACTLY the same as 1lb of muscle. (They’re empirically 1 LB each, yes?) HOWEVER, 1lb of muscle is denser, so takes up less “room”. And continuing on the happy note in favor of building muscle? Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, meaning the higher your muscle: fat ratio, the more calories you’ll burn, even when resting. For good health and fitness, what we should be focusing on is our muscle:fat ratio, rather our more generic overall weight read-out. Most scales give us the latter, but there are well-priced scales on the market that will give you overall weight, body fat, muscle mass, water percentage and bone mass read-outs. AND they offer the opportunity for you to enter your own personal biometrics – age, height, sex – to use algorithms that will calculate your personal profile. Are they as spot-on accurate as a doctor’s office biometrics? Maybe not. But they can be a good tool to monitor
Decide what is important to YOU. I suggest health/strength FIRST. Losing weight may be a bonus
- Lack of Sleep
This is not a peculiar fitness mistake for women past 50, but it’s more problematic, given those fun hormonal fluctuations. We NEED at least 6-8 hours of sleep each night to function properly. Lack of sleep won’t help us exercise physically and drains us mentally. Waking up several times per night ain’t helping.
Anything we can do to grab that elusive sleep? One client recommended keeping a damp towel in a bowl on her night stand. Next to it was a big bottle of water. Every time she awoke, she put the towel on her forehead or neck, and hydrated.
- Confidence Failure Negative body image is another one of the common health mistakes women make constantly. Bodies change, sometimes radically. Beginning or even continuing a healthy life and fitness regime? Difficult, even if we did it when we were 20 or 30. Do we look into the mirror and see things shifting in ways we may not like? Definitely? Perhaps? Our biggest hurdle can be that we won’t do things because we may think ourselves unable. We may not be as strong or think of ourselves as attractive as when we were younger. We’re definitely not as young, sure. However, those other factors, fitness and strength? Now these we CAN control. And when we feel strong and fit? It’s not just physical. We feel more confident. Internally and externally, THAT is attractive.
And, while it seems superficial – get a set of work-out clothes that are not only functional, comfortable, but also make you feel happy. Strut it when you sweat!
- Informational Overload Paralysis
Websites, magazines, newscasts: even the most current and reliable health information for women over 50 can be contradictory. You don’t like what you hear? Come back in a week for something different! What & whom are we supposed to trust? I can’t answer that. We all need to do our research, remain skeptical. Yet we can’t use this as an excuse to OPT OUT of a healthier lifestyle. The fundamentals & tools are there. They remain constant. Reach out, start making the change.