I was invited by a friend to participate in a 5K tough muddler challenge. I was asked two or three times before, but finally agreed to compete. I make it a point to maintain my physical fitness routine 3-5 days a week. It consists of lifting weights, doing HIIT training and incorporating cardio. So jumping into this shouldn’t be too difficult. I thought this would be a nice change of pace and a good physical challenge for me. But this got me thinking about my overall routine and my health as I’m getting older. I’ve been very consistent for the last 6 years or so, but there are things that I really want to work on and can do better to improve my mind and my body. Here are some options to improve your fitness beyond the gym with stretching, yoga and meditation for women over 40.
Stretching, Yoga and Meditation For Women Over 40
I will be the first to admit that I don’t stretch on my own beyond the gym. I’ll participate in the cool down with stretching after any fitness classes. But if I do a HIIT running session on the treadmill or do a heavy lift day, I don’t take the time to stretch out my muscles. I’ve lost a lot of flexibility in my body as I’ve gotten older (which is a real downer for me coming from a dance background). The importance of stretching and flexibility is not lost on me. Stretching results in an array of benefits to the body including keeping the muscles flexible, strong and healthy. Having flexibility from the result of stretching also helps maintain the range of motion in our joints.
If you are not a stretcher by nature, you can start off with larger muscle groups. Do not feel like you have to stretch every muscle. To start, you can focus on your calves, hamstrings and hip flexors. This will hit the muscles you (don’t) use that can get tight from sitting in a chair all day if you have a desk job. You can also stretch through your neck, shoulders and lower back. These are all muscles that can lose flexibility over time if you sit at a computer or in a car all day.
Proper stretching form is key and it will take time to build and maintain flexibility. To properly execute your stretch, hold it for 30 seconds and breathe deeply. Feeling tension is normal but if you start to feel pain, you may need to consult your doctor.
I’ve never been one for yoga, it’s always been a little too mellow for me. But I know people who swear by it as it can build long and lean muscles, core strength and help with flexibility, circulation and even anxiety and depression. Yoga is also linked to higher energy levels and cardio and circulatory health. I’m still trying to find a yoga style that works for me, but the benefits are definitely worth the search. The good thing about yoga is there are different skill levels for your liking and there are different techniques. Some techniques are more focused on deep breathing and centering yourself. Others are more cardio-intense and aid in building toned muscles.
Buti yoga is a type of practice I tried and really liked. It’s known most for being higher energy and cardio intensive. It incorporates tribal dance moves and conditioning exercises. It was pretty intense for me and by the end I was sweating and feeling great. I think this can be a good jumping off point for someone like me, who wants to work on flexibility but still feel like they got a good workout in. I highly recommend it for those who want something a more upbeat but still in the yoga family.
Meditation, Mindfulness and Affirmations
I know a lot of people who practice meditation. They all tell me how their lives have improved because of it. It can lead you to have a full-on spiritual awakening (if that is what you’re working towards), help you center yourself for the day or even just help you focus on a task at hand. Simply put, meditation consists of getting in a comfortable space for you, closing your eyes and focusing on your breath and the micro-movements of your body. Some key results of meditation are improved focus and mental clarity, achieving emotional calmness and reducing anxiety, stress, depression and even physical pain. I, for one, have not been able to successfully meditate. It takes practice, but the benefits are enough to make me want to keep trying. These days, there are numerous apps, videos, books and websites that will help guide you in meditation if you are a novice like me. My fiancé uses an app to do a 10 minute long meditation session in the morning. He’s stated how it helps him focus to get ready and out the door in a timely manner.
Law Of Attraction
The final thing that I want to mention that I feel goes into the category of mindfulness is the use of positive affirmations. I’ve found throughout the years during my low points in life that the power of spoken word affirmations and the Law of Attraction can really work in manifesting a new reality for myself. Using positive words and the Law of Attraction can result in the ability to attract into our lives whatever we are focusing on (keep in mind this is for good things and bad things!). I want to believe it’s worked for me with finding new career opportunities (and getting out of bad ones). Bringing positive people and circumstances into my life. I understand that it may not be for everyone, but I like to use it for myself. It can be very powerful if it’s something you believe in.
If you aren’t looking to use The Law of Attraction to bring something specific into your life, positive self-affirmations are always a great way to be mindful and kind to yourself. It’s so easy to get into negative self-talk, as we all wish there were things about ourselves and our lives that were different. However, it’s important to pull together a list of things that you love about yourself and your life. Then build them into “I am” statements and proclaim them every day to yourself and the world. It can be a private moment in the mirror just for you, during your morning commute, during your workout or even a nice relaxing shower or bath. When I do mine, it helps me see the good things in my life that I am grateful for and boosts my self-esteem.
Are there any methods you practice that have helped you improve your mind and body? We’d love to hear from you.
– Carmen Turner
You may also like to read more health and fitness posts for women over 40 like How To Reduce Your Risk Of Osteoporosis With Exercise and How To Feel Fit and Fab at Forty and Beyond.
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