Fitness expert Niki Wibrow: Why bite-sized workouts are key to getting fit over 40

-Apr 16, Hannah Hargrave, Fitness -

Finding the time for a workout is a huge stumbling block for people who want to get in shape, but once you hit 40 and your metabolism slows down it’s even more imperative to fit exercise into your busy schedule. Leading fitness trainer and yoga enthusiast Niki Wibrow has shared with Lumity exactly how you can get fit and fabulous in your 40s and beyond with manageable bite-sized workouts.

“If you’re over 40, shaping up and losing weight is not easy, in fact, it can be a challenge,” admits Niki, who British celebrities Sara Cox and Lisa Faulkner credit for keeping them in shape. “Changes in hormone levels, and how your body stores fat all play a factor in the weight gain/weight loss merry go round.”

Niki is not only the founder of a fabulous fitness brand which focuses on women over 40 but she’s a busy mum too, so she completely understands having a limited time schedule. 

“If you take into account family and work commitments, the average 40 something woman doesn’t have a lot of free time to work with when it comes to working out or losing weight,” Niki explains. 

“Unfortunately post 40 we also begin to naturally lose muscle tone, particularly during and after the menopause. This has a direct effect on our metabolism. A slow metabolism equals weight gain. It’s a big reason why so many of us gain weight over the age of 40.”

 Short Bursts Of Exercise

“If you’re trying to lose weight the consensus is to exercise for an hour four to five times a week, but that’s just not feasible,” says Niki. “The thought of trying to carve out an hour to exercise, in an already crammed schedule is almost impossible. I know I can’t, and I’m a fitness coach.

“Throughout my 20 year career as a yoga teacher and 35 years as a fitness trainer, I have learned to adapt my workouts to suit my schedule. I find bite-size workouts to be the most effective way to keep a sustained level of fitness in my life and a sustained weight that I’m happy with.

“There are many advantages to short bursts of exercise not least the most obvious one – time-saving. Many studies have shown that smaller workouts can help to increase brain function, such as memory and focus. They can also help to stimulate weight loss.

“Think of your normal workouts, typically they range from 20/30 minutes in length. Now cut those into bite-sized manageable chunks. Try 10-15 minutes in the morning, 10-15 minutes in the evening. This is much more achievable in the long term and is a great way to break in a new workout habit.”

Related: Simple ways to squeeze a little more exercise into your day

 The Benefits of Yoga

“Before we get caught up in the fitness side of things its important to note that yoga is particularly beneficial as we age. This ancient art is amazing at keeping the body strong, fit and flexible. It can also be used as a weight loss, stress management tool.

“The benefits don’t stop there either. Practicing yoga, even in bite-sized chunks can also be beneficial for the circulation and can help women maintain bone density during the menopause. The same principle applies, you can cut your yoga practice into manageable chunks until you feel ready to assign longer periods of time to your practice.”

Don’t Get Caught Up In Exercise Ruts

“Ageing can also cause our metabolic rate to fall, it can feel like we are pushing an extremely heavy weight up an extremely steep hill.

“It’s time to switch up the workouts you are doing to keep the body guessing and to give your metabolism a boost. Sometimes it just takes a little adjustment and the body is back on track.

“Don’t be afraid to try something new, invest in a new bike, sign up for a new class, invest in some running shoes, join a club. There are so many different avenues to pursue when working out, find the one that suits you best.”

 Don’t Keep Doing What You’ve Always Done

“Unfortunately, what worked in regards to weight loss, in our twenties and thirties just won’t work now. The gateposts have changed and we need to adapt to the body we have right now,” adds Niki.

“If you’ve started to feel the effects of your age, and that weight is creeping on, now is the perfect time to make a change. Accept the things you cannot change, but make a change to the things you can.

“Find time to invest in your health.  Start by making a date in your diary for working out and stick to it like you would any other appointment.”

 It’s All In The Prep

“One of the most effective ways to lose weight, irrespective of your age is preparation. Spending some time on meal prep can lead to better dietary habits.

“Most of us have jammed packed schedules so the thought of cooking something fresh every meal is just not attainable.

“Spending some time at the weekend to pre-prepare healthy snacks and meals can save valuable time during the week. Plus it can help when the mid-morning munchies come calling.

“I make a big batch of flapjacks, muffins, homemade granola which are fantastic for snacking on through the week, and they also make great on the go breakfasts too.”

Related: Healthy eating tips for busy women

 Don’t Forget to Hydrate

“I think we are all guilty of not drinking enough. But it’s vital to keep the body hydrated. We need at least eight glasses of water a day, more if you work out,” Niki reminds us. 

“Keeping topped up with fluids can help the body to function effectively and can help to ease bloating as well as flush out toxins from the body, particularly beneficial if you’re trying to lose weight.

“If you struggle with consuming plain water why not increase your intake of herbal teas, and high water content fruits and veggies – melon, apples and cucumber and celery. They all count towards your daily intake.”

Eat Clean Foods

“It probably comes as no surprise that processed foods can have a negative impact on our weight. Rather than thinking about cutting out processed foods for good switch your mindset so you are thinking about adding healthier foods to your diet – whole grains, lentils, fresh fish, fruits and vegetables.

“These food groups are loaded with nutrients but also contain fewer calories. Plus they help you to feel fuller for longer. Include high-quality protein foods which studies have shown can help with weight loss.

“A cleaner diet will often lead to a less bloated more svelte body.”

Follow these tips and you are well on your way to a healthier, better looking body come summer. 

If you enjoyed this article then you might also like to find out why Gwyneth Paltrow says women get better after 40 and read how this mum-of-two got in the best shape of her life in her 40s.

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