“If there was a magic pill to stay youthful, it would be exercise!” says Julie Diamond, Los Angeles-based fitness trainer and owner of Julie Diamond Fitness. And, at 55, that “magic pill” may not make you look like you’re 25, but it can have your body feeling closer to 25.
The primary reason to introduce a fitness routine into your life at this age: bone health. Postmenopausal women who put in two and a half hours of exercise a week are better able to avoid deteriorating bone mass (osteoporosis), according to an abstract published in the Journal of Mid-Life Health. Adds Diamond, “Even a small dose of exercise can go a long way in thwarting many factors of aging, including stress, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.”
To introduce an exercise regimen at 55 effectively, first take stock of your body. “Muscles and joints may begin to feel stiff and achy at this age,” says Diamond. “If that’s the case, water exercises are a great way to begin a program, and you can transition to land-based exercises when your body is ready.” Before you knock water aerobics, consider the wealth of benefits: It not only strengthens the leg and hip muscles, increases flexibility and revs up cardio-respiratory fitness, but it also burns a ton of calories.
For land-based exercise, try introducing strength training a few times a week. “Studies show that strength training helps improve bone loss and may even help produce new bone … [it] can significantly increase bone density in the spine and hips, two areas affected most by osteoporosis in older women,” says Diamond. If you feel boredom creeping in, alternate strength training with water exercises (swimming counts, too!) — as long as you’re getting your two and a half hours of activity a week, you’ll be on the path to feeling younger (and, we’re willing to bet, looking it, too!).
Not sure where to start? We partnered with trainer Julie Diamond on a series of easy but effective workout moves to target the whole body. If you’re just beginning to work out, we think you’ll love them.