There's no avoiding it, people all age, and as women age, it becomes harder to maintain a slim, toned, youthful figure. Harder doesn't mean impossible. With the right diet and exercise program you can maintain a healthy weight and physique as you age. Weight training is especially important, because according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, aging muscles start to shrink and lose mass, which can be accelerated by a sedentary lifestyle.
Medline Plus recommends an easy way for women to calculate their ideal body weight: Start with 100 pounds for the first 5 feet of height; add 5 pounds for each inch over 5 feet. Adjustments are made for small- or large-framed women; add 10 percent if you have a large frame, and subtract 10 percent if you’re a small-framed woman.
Middle-aged women require different amounts of calories depending on their activity level. For women at a healthy weight, calorie requirements range from 1,800 to 2,200 for women age 31 to 50, and from 1,600 to 2,200 for women age 51 and older, according to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. Women who are overweight may require fewer calories per day. Women with active lifestyles require a higher caloric intake than sedentary women for weight maintenance. You can determine your individual daily caloric requirements online, at websites such as that run by Medline Plus.
According to the American Dietetic Association, post-menopausal women have increased nutritional needs and require more calcium, vitamin B-12 and vitamin D. Increasing consumption of low-fat or fat-free dairy products can help meet these additional nutrient requirements for post-menopausal women. Consuming low-fat dairy products may also help reduce weight gain associated with increasing age and a decreasing metabolism.
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, a circuit weight training program can help increase muscle definition and cardiovascular performance. It recommends a circuit program be performed for 20 to 30 minutes, at least four times per week. A circuit program consists of performing 15 to 20 repetitions of a resistance exercise for each major muscle group; 30 seconds or less is recommended for rest periods in between sets.
A strength-building program consists of exercising each major muscle group to fatigue. Repetitions should be fewer with a strength-training program than with a circuit program (three sets of eight to 10 repetitions), and rest periods should be longer (60 to 90 seconds). A strength-building weight training program is typically performed less frequently than a circuit program since fatigued muscles take longer to recover.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.