Most Effective Weight Loss Cardio Exercise for Women 40+

Women often focus primarily on cardiovascular exercise for weight management or loss. If this is you, then follow these tips to understand how to exercise for optimal weight loss. I do encourage you though to focus on nutrition as well since what you eat can contribute up to 80% of how you look.

There are so many strategies that have a huge impact on weight loss and, when used properly, yield amazing results. Not only will they help with weight loss, but they are critical for overall health and optimal aging. After all, it’s not just about the numbers on the scale.

Some of these strategies include:

  • Cardiovascular exercise
  • Intermittent fasting
  • Nutrition
  • Protein fasting
  • Leptin reset
  • Strength Training
  • Autophagy

An important mistake I see women make is that they don’t understand the difference between movement and exercise.

woman walking for exercise outdoors

Movement versus Exercise

Walking is a fantastic form of movement that yields wonderful health benefits. You’ll want to consider walking whenever possible. Walking at least 20 minutes is important for lymphatic circulation, improving insulin resistance, reducing cardiovascular risk, dementia and improving mitochondrial function.

There’s a difference though between movement and exercise. Walking is not intense enough to create the same physiological adaptation that you get from an activity such as high intensity interval training (HIIT). For weight loss purposes, you want to focus on exercise that is brief, purposeful, intense and safe.

High intensity interval training (HIIT) is the optimal choice for weight loss.

HIIT training is so effective because it causes you to produce more human growth factor (a protein hormone) than regular cardio or even a 45 minutes strength workout. This protein hormone helps to maintain, build and repair healthy tissue in the body. It helps speed up metabolism and fat loss. A HIIT workout burns a lot of calories in a short amount of time, and your metabolic rate is higher for hours after a HIIT workout. The same can’t be said for walking. HIIT can burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time

HIIT is repeated, extremely hard bouts of work interspersed with periods of recovery.

It’s not the same as interval training, which is also a hard effort. HIIT exercise uses the anaerobic pathway and it will be an all out effort.

This means you are showing up and giving 100% effort, not 80 or 90%.

HIIT hard workout for weight loss

For this kind of workout to be effective a 30 second all out effort is long enough to get the physiological benefits for weight loss.

I recommend using a heart rate monitor to give you an accurate read on your level of effort. Somedays I think I’m giving it my all, but my monitor tells me otherwise. It’s useful feedback.

I like to use a 3:1 ratio when I do a HIIT workout. First I’ll warm-up for 10 minutes with a slow jog. Your warm-up can be any activity that slightly raises your heart rate and prepares your body for the upcoming activity.

I then run 30 seconds at an all out effort, followed by a very slow jog or walk for 90 seconds. You want to fully recover during the rest period so that you can go very hard each time.

This cycle can be repealed 6 to 15 times. The more in shape you get, the more cycles you can do. If you’re new to HIIT workouts, start at the lower end. After 3 weeks or so, add an extra cycle to your workout and gradually continue to increase.

End with a 5 minute cool-down.

Exercise ideas for HIIT:

  • Jog in place
  • Bodyweight squats
  • Pushups
  • Burpees
  • Situps
  • Running
  • Biking
  • Swimming
  • Hills
  • Rowing

Don’t do HIIT training more than twice a week. Start with once a week then move to twice a week, but once will suffice.

Do a cardio HIIT session 3 days apart from a strength workout.


  • Be sure to get medical clearance before engaging in cardiovascular exercise.
  • 10 minute warm-up
  • 30 second all out sprint (running, biking, rowing, skipping, swimming)
  • 60 to 90 second recovery – you may even have to stop and rest for 90 seconds. Be sure to bring your heart rate down.
  • 6 to 15 cycles
  • Cool-down of 5 to 10 minutes

Remember though, that in terms of your physical appearance, exercise is about 20% of the equation.

Understanding how to eat for health will minimize fat gain and optimize muscle tone and definition. What you eat makes much more of a difference than what you burn by means of exercise. In fact, excessive exercise can actually work against you, spiking your cortisol and making you gain weight.

Join me for my 6 week weight loss group- Reset, Renew, Results- and learn how to easily integrate weight loss strategies into your life. You will lose weight, end emotional eating, and manage urges. The most rewarding benefit is that you’ll be 100% confident knowing what you need to do moving forward. Hear what others say HERE.

Get more info and join HERE.

More Great Tips

How Women 40+ Can Eat Fat To Lose Weight

No, this isn't a trick! You can - and should - eat fat to lose weight. For biological reasons, women are predisposed to gaining more weight than men. Moreover, as women age beyond 40, many hormone levels decline and this plays a role in weight gain. It may seem...

read more

Reverse Aging with Smart Fitness

There is an abundance of research that shows that fitness helps reverse aging and turn back the clock both physically and mentally. Fitness after 40 is about much more than the vanity metrics we were concerned with when we were younger, like looking good in jeans....

read more

Quick tips to improve your metabolism at 40+

Don't forget to subscribe!

Subscribe here to receive my weekly newsletter. Content varies, but is all health & wellness related. No spam. You'll receive exclusive advice ranging from recipes to tips on mindset shifts. Don't miss out!

Thank you! You have successfully subscribed. Check your inbox.