The Best Exercises for Women Over 50

Written by Marnie Clark

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Do you feel tired for no reason, overwhelmed, and rundown? Do you crave sweet and salty snacks or have a loss of libido? Are you putting on excess pounds, especially around the middle? If so, you might need to rethink your exercise program so it provides adrenal support instead of causing adrenal fatigue – especially if you’re a woman who’s in perimenopause or menopause. Read on to discover some of the best exercises for women over 50 that support hormonal health.

Why Adrenal Support Matters

The adrenals are a set of glands, located just above the kidneys, which produce the hormone adrenaline and the steroids aldosterone and cortisol. (As the ovaries wind down at menopause, the adrenal glands also take over a woman’s hormone production.) When your sympathetic nervous system – your “fight or flight” state – goes into hyperdrive, these hormones kick in to help you meet the energy demands of that stress. Stress can be okay for short periods, but your adrenal glands can become overwhelmed and unable to keep up with the production of cortisol and other stress hormones.

Hard Workouts Stress Your Adrenal Glands

When your adrenals are fatigued, it can affect every area of your life, from your sleep schedule to your sex life… and eventually your health.


Countless studies show that intense or prolonged mental stress contributes to adrenal fatigue. But did you know that physical stress such as too many intense, consecutive workouts can also result in adrenal burn-out [1]?

Exercise produces a temporary increase in cortisol levels. Cortisol, in and of itself, is not bad for you. But too much cortisol is a contributing factor to the storage of belly fat, and, in particular, visceral fat (the fat stored in the abdominal cavity and around the organs).

Visceral fat is particularly unhealthy because it’s a risk factor for heart disease and diabetes. An excess of cortisol can also lead to reduced kidney function, hypertension, suppressed immune function, reduced growth hormone levels, and reduced connective tissue strength.

However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise. At this stage in life, women tend to lose muscle mass and put on weight, making workouts for women over 50 one of the best things a woman can do for her health! Exercise boosts your metabolism and mood, releasing feel-good endorphins that can improve the stress reaction and reduce fatigue [2]. Studies also show that physical activity is effective at improving alertness and concentration and enhancing overall cognitive function [3].

Worst & Best Exercises for Over 50 Females

What matters most is your choices for exercise during and after your perimenopause to menopause journey. Now is not the ideal time to train for your first marathon or practice intense vinyasas or hot yoga seven days a week. Instead, exercises such as restorative yoga and walking outdoors have long been recommended for adrenal support as both have been shown to modulate the stress response and reduce cortisol levels [4].

woman walking for exercise

Walking is always a great choice because it can burn some calories and relieve stress for sure. The downside of walking alone is that it doesn’t offer much in the way of strength training. Studies show that people with more muscle tone are better at managing stress, which is precisely what you need to combat adrenal fatigue [5].

Certain types of yoga strengthen the body, but may not burn the calories desired unless you go for the more vigorous types. The problem with these intense types of yoga is that they can be too taxing on your body – especially if you show signs of adrenal burn-out.

However, there is still great benefit from performing restorative yoga after your workout. Try these four poses a few times a week to support adrenal function. (There are lots of YouTube videos that can show you how to do these poses if you’re unfamiliar with them.)

  1. Balasana (Child’s Pose)
  2. Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Cobbler’s Pose)
  3. Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall Pose)
  4. Savasana (Corpse Pose)

Two other types of exercise that are often overlooked by pre- and post-menopausal women are Pilates and High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Many women find these types of exercise helpful for addressing the creeping weight, increasing belly fat, and loss of strength and firmness that often greet us around menopause.

The Benefits of Pilates vs. Yoga for Women Over 50

African American woman over 50 doing yoga stretch on mat

Pilates, like yoga, lengthens and strengthens the body. They both focus on breath, alignment, balance, strength, and flexibility. With Pilates, there tends to be more emphasis on training the core in short sets (such as doing 10 or 12 reps of each move).

In yoga, you are twisting and encouraging your body towards its maximum flexibility. While you also work your core in yoga, the practice does not involve sets or counting (except perhaps breaths) and does not focus on immediate recovery. (Go here to discover yoga for menopause symptoms.)

A quick trip to Google will offer up lots of how-to videos. Some examples of Pilates exercises you might want to look up instruction for include:

  • Criss-Cross: Repeat 20-30 times on each side then rest
  • Single leg lift: 20 times each leg, then rest
  • Swimming (on the floor): 50 pulses, then rest
  • Single leg bridge: 4 times for each leg, then rest
  • The “100”: 60 pulses then rest
  • Single leg circles: 10-15 times with each leg, then rest

Why HIIT Is a Great Workout Choice for Women Over 50

HIIT (also known as HIIE), short for high-intensity intermittent training or exercise, allows for short workouts that allow for quick recovery. HIIT targets the whole body which means you can build muscle and torch calories – a plus for many women. The intervals of work and rest provide built-in recovery. HIIT gets your heart rate close to its max and then lets you rest briefly before you do it all again.


By alternating between low/moderate intensity exercises and high(er) intensity ones, you’re able to accomplish a lot more in a shorter time period with appropriate recovery. Researchers report that HIIT may be better for fat loss, as well as boosting your metabolism, than many other types of exercise [6].

Some examples of HIIT workouts are:

  • Walk and Sprint: Walk for 30 seconds, then sprint for 30 seconds. Repeat 8-10 times
  • Pushups: Ten pushups, then rest for 30 seconds; repeat
  • Burpees: Do 10 and then rest for 60 seconds (Burpees are that often-dreaded combination of squat thrust, push up, frog jump, and jump squat); repeat
  • Planks: Hold for 60 seconds then rest for 30 seconds; repeat
  • Jump rope: Jump for 60 seconds then rest for 30 seconds; repeat
  • Squat jumps: Jump for 45 seconds then rest for 30 seconds; repeat

It’s important to remember that all resistance exercise causes a temporary increase in cortisol. But the highest cortisol increases are observed in protocols which are intense and long in duration combined with short rest intervals. An example would be going for a long run. To minimize your cortisol response to exercise, keep training sessions short, and take adequate rest in between sets. Your hormones will thank you.

Choose Your Strength Training Time to Maximize Adrenal Support

Lifting weights should be done at a time when cortisol levels are at a higher point such as in the morning [7]. Avoid overtraining by matching your intensity, volume, and duration to your recovery ability. Remember to listen to what your body says it can do. Decrease your training frequency, and/or take a day off if necessary.

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Marnie Clark
Marnie Clark has studied natural medicine for over 25 years. She is a breast cancer survivor since the early 2000s and a breast cancer coach for the past decade. Marnie is passionate about empowering others on how to make their bodies hostile terrain for cancer development through nutrition, detoxification, mind/body techniques, energy medicine, and other healing protocols. You can find her at her website.

Article Summary

  • If you’re a woman in perimenopause or menopause you might need to rethink your exercise program so it provides adrenal support instead of causing adrenal fatigue.

  • As you age your adrenal glands can become overwhelmed and unable to keep up with the production of cortisol and other stress hormones.

  • Exercise is important for women in perimenopause and menopause, but it needs to be the right kind that doesn’t overstress the adrenal glands.

  • Exercises such as restorative yoga and walking outdoors are recommended for adrenal support as they modulate the stress response and reduce cortisol levels.

  • Two other types of exercise that are often overlooked by pre- and post-menopausal women are Pilates and High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).

  • To minimize your cortisol response to exercise, keep training sessions short, and take adequate rest in between sets. Your hormones will thank you.

  • Supplements that support hormonal health such as Organixx E-Plexx formula for women can also be helpful.

Reader Interactions


    • Hi Karin, that’s an excellent question! Since we keep in mind that everyone is different, you will need to refer to your trusted medical and health professional to give you the go signal if swimming is recommended for you and your current health condition.

      Regarding your other question, we would like to share the following articles we published that talked about stress and how to deal with it:

      We hope you found them informative! Have a lovely weekend ahead!

  1. What about swimming. ?
    I am 78 years old and enjoy swimming in the sea. Perhaps a daily swim for 30 minutes, is that beneficial ?
    I usually bicycle to the sea which takes me approximately 20 minutes.
    I try to go daily but it depends on the weather.
    I take your Ageless Brain capsules and 7 M capsules.
    What do you think?

    • Hello May, thanks for your question.

      We appreciate you sharing your daily health regimen with us, it seems like you are doing a wonderful job in keeping active, fit and young! We are also glad to know that you use Ageless Brain and 7M+ as a part of your wellness routine.

      Since the article considers the fact that not every women over 50 have the same status of health, we highly recommend everyone to consult with their trusted medical or fitness specialist to help them determine if swimming (and other activities) is suited for them.

      We wish you the best in your health journey! Enjoy your weekend!

    • I’m also 78 and swim laps. Have done it for 40 years. Since I was diagnosed with Parkinson disease a year ago I don’t have much strength anymore.

  2. Thank you for this article. It brings up questions though. Does the EPlexx do the same thing as using Bio Identical Hormones?
    I have been using them for years under the care of my Naturopath.

    Thank you,

    • Hi Felicia, thanks for your question.

      We’re happy to hear about your interest in E-Plexx, which is a completely new breakthrough answer to the “silent epidemic” of female hormonal imbalance — with an ingredient complex designed to safely and naturally support your body to do exactly what it did during its prime: produce and regulate each and every crucial hormonal component to repair, preserve, and build feminine beauty and strength. You may click here to learn more:

      Regarding your concern, we’re afraid we cannot comment on supplements from another brand and how it works compared to ours. We highly recommend a consultation with your physician or naturopathic doctor to help you determine whether E-Plexx will be beneficial to you and your current health needs.

      We wish you the best!

      • Seems a reasonable question. Bio identical hormones is not ambrand,but a general term for pharmaceutical hormones. I too would like to know if this product serves the same,purpose but in a more natural formulation.

        • Hi, Cindy! Thank you for your feedback! Our apologies for the lengthy delay in responding back to your inquiry as we completed some in-depth research on this topic with our formulator.

          As you may know, bioidentical hormones are synthetic hormones produced in a lab. Although the E-Plexx from Organixx is formulated to support healthy hormonal balance, it does not contain any bioidentical hormones (or any kind of hormones). We thoroughly checked to see if any of the herbs used in the product could be considered as bioidentical hormones, but they were not. Here is a link to the E-Plexx ingredient label for your reference:

          You may also check out this page to learn more about the ingredients and formulation behind our E-Plexx product:

          We hope that helped to answer your question. We appreciate your interest in Organixx. Wishing you a wonderfully good health day!

  3. Thank you so much for this article. It’s refreshing to see someone address the exercise issue for women over 50. Most trainers are not even aware of this and train older women like we were in our 20’s. I know because this happened to me. I became sick during the workout, the trainer brought my heart rate so high…my doctor said I could have had a heart attack. I have been an athlete all my life but after kids and a family, I slowed down on exercising.

    thank you again

    • Thank you for being here with us, Connie.

      We are glad to know that you liked this article. We are very sorry to know that you had an unpleasant experience with exercise. We agree that it is important to cater exercise to age and health conditions in order for it to work.

      We hope that you have found the perfect workout for you and we wish you the best in your wellness journey! ~Jess, OX Team

    • Yessss I couldn’t agree with you more! Love love this article. Thank you publishing it and wish it would be more known out there for women over 50. I have many issues with gaining weight all of sudden turning 50 when I’m physically active and eat healthy but I finally discovered after two years on my own that everything I’m doing is not working like it did few years ago so I know now I need to slow down readjust my activities and rest more. We must listen to our body’s needs.
      We can do this!

  4. You can swim at different speeds, so slower is still good exercise but is better if you don’t want to be vigorous and up your heart rate. It can be so relaxing to do a gentle swim. I like to play as well by turning over from front crawl to back stroke, an I also like doing forward rolls.

    • Hello, Alida!

      We like your thoughts about swimming as a work-out and how it can be done at different speed. Thank you so much for sharing your suggestions with us.

      We wish you the best in your wellness journey! ~Jess, OX Team

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