Women Over Age 50 Need to Exercise More
Are you a woman and graduated from high school in 1982 or earlier (born in 1964 or earlier)? That’s a polite and roundabout way of asking are you over age 50? If so, this post is specfically for you. A study published in Maturitas, also known as the international journal of midlife health and beyond (seriously) concluded that women over age 50 need to exercise more and more intensely than previously recommended. That means more effort women. BUMMER for most!
The current recommendations advise 30 minutes of mild exercise most days of the week to improve health. But the study published in Maturitas indicates that 30-45 minutes of moderate to high intensity exercise 5 times a week may be what is actually needed for women over age 50. When you find yourself huffing and puffing then you are exercising at least at a moderate intensity level.
Exercising at these levels reduces the risk of death, and prevents physical and cognitive decline.
What’s Moderate to High Intensity Exercise?
There’s a couple of ways to gauge your exercise intensity. Probably the easiest method is the Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion Scale which ranges from 6-20. You basically rate your intensity level by how you feel using the guide below.
- Borg rating levels of 6, 7, and 8 means you’re exercising at a very, very light level
- Borg rating levels of 9 and 10 means you’re exercising at a very light level
- Borg rating levels of 11 and 12 means you’re exercising at a fairly light level
- Borg rating levels of 13 and 14 means you’re exercising at a somewhat hard level
- Borg rating levels of 15 and 16 means you’re exercising at a hard level
- Borg rating levels of 17 and 18 means you’re exercising at a very hard level
- Borg rating levels of 19 and 20 means you’re exercising at a very, very hard level
Moderate intensity equates to Borg perceived rating levels of 13 and 14. Why does the scale go from 6 to 20? If you add a “0” at the end of any rating level it conveniently equates to your exercise heart rate and is, in fact, very accurate. In other words, if you rate your intensity at level 13 then your heart rate is probably around 130. If you rate your level at a 9 then your heart rate is around 90.
Now that you know that, you will want your heart rate above 130 to be exercising at a moderate intensity level.
Another way to determine exercise intensity is using METs. At rest the body consumes 3.5 ml of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute. That is one MET. If you are exercising at 7 METs then you are consuming 7 times as much oxygen as you do at rest.
- Light intensity is exercising at 1-3 METs
- Moderate intensity is exercise at 3-6 METs
- High (vigorous) intensity is exercising at >6 METs
This link provides examples of activities that fall into the moderate intensity category and those in the high (vigorous) intensity category. For example, moderate house cleaning constitutes moderate physical intensity as does doubles tennis. But, singles tennis is categorized at vigorous activity.
Though you might be physically active already, if you are a woman over 50 and want to get optimal results from your exercise makes sure you exercise in the moderate to high intensity range.