Why women over 40 must take up sports

Research shows that taking up sports can help women retain (and regain) some of their agility as they age.

Myupchar October 15, 2019 16:14:09 IST
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Why women over 40 must take up sports
  • Research shows that taking up sports can help women retain (and regain) some of their agility as they age

  • It helps in maintaining joint mobility and can have a positive effect on bone health

  • Sports help in taming some of the things that come with menopause like weight gain, hot flashes and insomnia

It's no wonder that most women over 40 dread a particular question posed by doctors during their regular physical examination.

And that is: Have you been getting enough exercise?

The reason: Most of us fail to make time for exercise. And middle-age is rarely kind - especially to women, as our bodies adapt to a slower metabolism, increased risk for diseases like breast cancer and as we come closer to the big M: menopause.

Why women over 40 must take up sports

Representational image. Image by Mabel Amber, still incognito... from Pixabay

Happily, research shows that taking up sports can help us to retain (and regain) some of our agility as we age. Here’s why women over 40 should take up sports to get stronger, faster, healthier:

Why sports

Much has been written about girls taking up sports in the country, to become the next Saina Nehwal or Heena Sidhu or Deepika Kumari. But there’s little discussion around sports geared towards women in their 40s and 50s in India (barring at a few running events like the Pinkathon).

Research shows that exercise, especially sports — which often have a sense of community and belonging associated with them — can reverse biological age: you could be 55 and still have the body of a 40-year-old.

Engaging in sports can be beneficial in many ways:

  • It helps in maintaining joint mobility and can have a positive effect on bone health.
  • Sports help in taming some of the things that come with menopause like weight gain, hot flashes and insomnia (the average age of Indian women at menopause is 46).
  • Women who play sports have higher levels of confidence and a more positive body image.
  • It helps in lowering depression and boosting your mood - women are more prone to depression; group activities and physical exercise can both help reduce the risk.
  • Sports are associated with a decreased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular risk factors.
  • It improves lung function, cardiac function and cardio-respiratory fitness.
  • Sports improve the plasma lipid profile and also helps reduce body weight.

Which sports?

Recently, the Union sports ministry announced an initiative to open up national and state sports complexes to leagues and clubs, to promote a culture of sport in the country. Women, too, should take advantage and take up sports according to their health condition and the sports facilities they can best access. Some great choices of sport to take up at any age are:

  • Swimming: A non-weight-bearing exercise, swimming has many benefits. Dr Hirofumi Tanaka, Director of the Cardiovascular Aging Research Laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin, US, found in his research that swimming can lower the blood pressure, and improve cardiovascular and muscular health. It also helps in alleviating back pain and improving posture.
  • Racket sport: A three-set game of badminton, tennis or squash - take your pick - increases aerobic capacity, improves metabolic function and motor skills, lowers resting heart rate, increases flexibility and helps to destress.
  • Cycling: Women over 45 are more likely to get osteoarthritis than men of the same age. Cycling is a great way to reduce weight and lower the risk of getting this bone-degenerative condition.

Before you start any new sport, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor, especially if you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. For more information, read our article on Menopause: Symptoms, Management and Hormone Therapy.

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