Health & Wellness -

How To Start Exercising

Not sure where to begin? Get going with this advice from a personal trainer.

By Kim Schlag, Personal Trainer & Nutrition Coach     4-Minute Read
Exercising in perimenopauseKim Schlag is a personal trainer & nutrition coach who helps women over 40 age stronger, improve their body composition, and heal their relationship with food and their bodies through her eight-week course Fitter After 40. Womaness co-founder Michelle Jacobs (above) is one of her best students! 


So you’re on board for all the incredible benefits exercise brings in menopause, but aren’t sure how to start? Know this: it’s literally never too late to start. 

In this article you will learn simple steps to get started with both a daily movement practice and a strength training program. If it feels like a lot to start both at the same time, go ahead and start with the daily walking program. Once you have that in place add in the strength training piece. 


 HOW TO START: A Daily Walking Program


Benefit of walking in menopause

The great thing about walking is there’s no learning curve. You’ve been doing it your entire life, after all. Here’s an easy way to start making it a daily habit: 

  • Grab a step tracker (it doesn’t have to be fancy) and track your steps for 7 days.

  • If you're not hitting an average of 8,000 - 10,000 steps daily (or 6,000 - 8,000 if you're 60+), then add 500 - 1,000 steps to you base as your new target for the coming week.

  • As that target becomes routine, add on another 500 - 1,000 steps until you've hit that optimized range listed above.


There are loads of simple ways to add in the needed steps. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Add in a walk after every meal (even just 5 - 10 minutes).

  • Add in a morning and/or evening walk.

  • Set a timer to go off once per hour. Walk wherever you are for 2 - 5 minutes.

  • Walk/pace during all phone calls.

  • Buy a walking pad like this one for use at your desk. a timer to go off once per hour. Walk wherever you are for 2 - 5 minutes.


HOW TO START: A Strength Training Program


Exercising and strength training in menopause

You likely don’t feel as confident in your abilities with strength training as you do with walking. I promise you it can be quite simple. To be clear, "simple" isn’t the same as "easy." If you’re doing it correctly, strength training feels hard. What it doesn’t have to be, though, is complicated. Follow these guidelines and you’ll have a solid plan in place that will help you see fantastic results in terms of strength, definition, and confidence: 

  • Perform variations of squats, hinges, lunges, pushes, pulls, and carries. You can find a full home workout with exercise demos HERE.

  • Train 2 - 4x times per week. You could do two full body days; a three-day split that has one lower body day, one upper body day, and one full body day; or a four-day split that has two lower body days and two upper body days. Training seven days a week is not necessary and can actually inhibit your results. Rest days are where the magic happens!

  • Focus on proper form to start. To do this, I suggest watching a video tutorial of an exercise and then filming yourself doing that exercise. Watch the footage of yourself and compare to the form tutorial, noting any tweaks you should make. Recording yourself is easy peasy: Just prop your phone up against your water bottle and push record, making sure your whole body is in the frame from head to toe. Filming from the side view is usually the most helpful.

  • Once you’re comfortable with your form, start increasing the weight. Your muscles need a stimulus to grow (read: get toned and defined!). Lifting the same weight for the same reps doesn’t give them that needed signal. Give your body that signal by lifting heavier weight over time. 

  • It's important to remember that "heavy" is relative. What's lightweight to you might be too heavy for the woman next to you (or vice versa). A weight is appropriately heavy if, at the end of the set, you couldn't lift it again with good form more than one to two times. 

  • You can train at a gym or at home. The key to an effective workout will be having enough weight to challenge you in the way I described above. 

  • Follow the same training program from a minimum of four to six weeks before changing it. This will allow you to get stronger at those exercises week to week.

Feeling intimidated by lifting? Try doing just one exercise to start.

Get really comfortable with dumbbell rows or chest presses. Those are easy ones to master the form. As you feel ready, add in a second exercise, then a third and so on. 

There’s no rush here. Once you get a solid lifting and walking program in place it will pay dividends for the rest of your life. 

If you want more direct help consistently incorporating these forms of exercise into your life (including personalized form feedback), please check out my eight-week course Fitter After 40. It’s a complete system for women over 40 to get in their best shape yet, including nutrition, exercise, and mindset.

Our thanks to our Womaness fitness models: Co-Founder Michelle Jacobs and Customer Concierge Ann Gobel.


More in Health & Wellness

Food, Exercise & Losing Weight in Menopause
3 Types of Exercises to Do in Menopause
The Ins & Outs of Intermittent Fasting in Menopause

Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes and is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a physician or medical advice. Womaness strives to share the knowledge and advice from our own network of experts and our own research. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based in partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.