If you’re in your 50’s and 60’s, you probably fall into one of two categories: you’re fit and healthy and looking to keep it up, or you’re not as fit as you’d like and are looking for ways to ramp up your routine. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh noticed an average gain of 12 pounds in the eight years after menopause in 541 women studied. According to the researchers, We also tend to gain a little potbelly…. And other places begin to droop noticeably. “At this point, loss of muscle mass and tone really shows,” says longtime fitness expert Kathy Smith. “It can actually start to change your posture.”

In your 50’s

It’s all about the weight training in this decade! It’s absolutely never too late to start working on muscle mass. Women in their nineties have been able to gain muscle mass in as little as nine weeks, so don’t ever feel like your time has passed. If you’ve never done weight training before, start slowly, lifting light weights until they become comfortable. Then add weight in small increments. Additionally, yoga is still your best friend. The flexibility benefits are innumerable, and as we age the need to be limber is more and more important to sustain our sense of balance. In our 50’s, we seek to really appreciate the body that has carried us through our lives. Learning to live with the subtle imperfections is the order of the day, because loving ourselves for strength and fortitude is among the greatest strengths we possess. And to set yourself up for a fabulous second chapter, remember to exercise for 20-30 minutes five times a week to reduce your risk of a heart attack.

In your 60’s

Now it’s time to split it up. You need three days of cardio, but not exhaustive, and three days of weights. Your workouts these days should be more focused on the duration than the intensity. Hard, jarring workouts can be detrimental to joints and spines, so unless you’re a very elite athlete (in which case, rock on sister!) then now is the time to stick with jogging, swimming, biking and light to moderate resistance training. And now that almost every woman is post-menopausal, a healthy diet is super important. Things like eggs, green leafy vegetables, whole grains and legumes should be making regular appearances on your plate. Doing the work now to maintain bone health and flexibility will ensure that you’re biking and hiking well into your 80’s and beyond.

As we age, we don’t get a free pass to sit down. And anyway who wants to? After a lifetime spent caring for others, a woman in her 50’s and 60’s may finally be at a point in her life when her children are grown and she can reclaim her time and interests! There may be grandchildren to enjoy and with the right time spent on yourself, you’ll continue to be a strong role model for health and a never ending giver of love. By now you’ve weathered storms and grown up, so don’t let all that expertise go to waste.