When I was 41 and decided to lose weight I had to figure out how to start exercising from ground zero. I was so out of shape playing Just Dance had me ready to pass out. So, how do you start exercising if you’re out of shape after 40? 

start exercising if you're out of shape woman

If you are having trouble losing weight after 40, you are not alone. Starting an exercise program for the first time ever like I did, or even getting back into an exercise routine can be so hard for you, it’s easier to give up. There’s really nothing worse than working so hard on the elliptical and only going .25 miles — I know because that was me at one time.

Then, making a goal to reach 1/2 mile felt like torture.

You must be really serious about losing weight and getting fit after 40, and truly that is the first step to making this work.

How to Start Exercising if You’re Out of Shape After 40?

After learning how to exercise for the first time in my life at age 42, I can tell you what I did to get through it. Plus, I learned some things I would go back and do a little differently you can now benefit from.

Probably the most important thing to remember is to keep at it. Day 1, and even day 7 or day 10, can feel really tough trying to do a workout. It’s 100% okay – and normal – to not be able to finish a workout at this point. Or, modify exercises so that you CAN finish. It’s also perfectly normal to take short breaks during the workout so you can keep going.

It’s important to do as much of the workout as you can, but don’t give up when it doesn’t go as you’d like it to. It is a strong commitment to yourself to start exercising if you’re out of shape, but it is so important to stick with it through the beginning to get to the “other side”.

When I first began working out, I could only do a few minutes of an hour workout. After a few months of elliptical workouts, I decided to give a more structured workout a try. I did the workouts 4-5 days a week. To start, I could only do about 20 minutes before my muscles were too tired for more. After a few weeks, I was able to finish, however, it was really tough. It was worth it though!

 

How to Start Cardio When You’re Out of Shape After 40?

Let’s be honest, there aren’t too many people who love cardio, me included. Trying to do a full cardio workout when out of shape can be brutal, and dangerous to your health in some cases. A slow steady cardio plan is a great way to start without getting overwhelmed with how difficult a workout will be.

You shouldn’t expect to be able to go from doing nothing to running a couple of miles, or even 1/2 mile. Maybe running isn’t even your goal at all. You don’t have to run to lose weight.

A nice walk is a great way to start a cardio program to lose weight.

I have been using a fitness tracker for years now and it was one of the best purchases for my health I have ever made. It motivated me to get up and get moving regularly. The best way to use a fitness tracker when starting an exercise program is to have daily step goals.

Ultimately, the health benefits of taking 10,000 steps a day will be a great addition to your overall program, but when you start exercising when you’re out of shape just adding an extra 1,000 steps at a time to your normal activity will help you burn more calories.

There is research that proves taking a few minutes every hour to get up and move is much healthier and better for our body, specifically our vital organs.

Over the next few weeks, increasing your distance walked daily as well as the pace will increase your cardio health and prepare you for the next step in your weight loss journey. When you are up to it, this 30-day walking plan will burn calories for weight loss.

Strength Training Exercises if You’re Out of Shape

Strength training may not even be in your plan for losing weight, yet. When you start exercising if you’re out of shape, there should be some time made for strength training. It took me over a year to pick up my first weight. Looking back, I wish I had started it sooner. I was doing body weight exercises and using resistance bands, but great things started happening when I started picking up weights.

There are many different health reasons for women over 40 to lift weights, including preventing osteoporosis. Even if your goal isn’t to tone your muscles (but what woman over 40 doesn’t want to have a 20 something-year-old body?), osteoporosis is real for women over 40 and should not be ignored.

Strength training should be started slowly, lifting weights of 1-5lbs to start.

You don’t have to wait to start lifting the lightweights. By starting early, your muscles can begin to tone and rebuild after years of atrophy. When you have more muscle tone, your metabolism will be higher, thus, burning more calories overall.

Bottom line, listen to your body. You will know when it’s time to step up your exercise to the next level. Keep challenging yourself or even back off a bit if needed, but don’t just quit because you think you can’t do it. And, make sure to check with your doctor before starting any exercise program when you are out of shape from years of not doing exercises.

Some Workouts to Start Exercising if You’re Out of Shape

These are some workouts you can use to ease into working out with that will help strengthen your muscles and increase your cardio endurance.

30 Day Plank Challenge – only takes a couple of minutes a day!

30 Day Walking Challenge – starts small, builds up over the 30 days

30 Min No Equipment Beginner Cardio – 3 rounds, do 1 or 2 to start and build up to 30 min