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The Girlfriend Doctor w/ Dr. Anna Cabeca

Oct 6, 2020

The way we exercise after we turn 50 absolutely has to include a few essential elements. Strength training and working smarter, not harder, will keep you in tip-top condition! I’m joined by Debra Atkinson, founder of Flipping 50, to talk about keeping fit in your menopausal years.

Key Takeaways

  • Exercise smarter by doing shorter workers with bigger impact. [11:40]
  • Prioritize strength training in your workouts to support your body as you enter your middle years [30:00]
  • You should take a longer period of recovery in between strength training sessions. Aim for two sessions a week. [33:00]

About Debra Atkinson

Wellness Coach and Fitness Expert Debra Atkinson has helped over 150,000 women “flip” their second half with the vitality and energy they want. She’s the bestselling author of You Still Got It, Girl: The After 50 Fitness Formula for Women; Navigating Fitness After 50: Your GPS For Choosing Programs and Professionals You Can Trust; and Hot, Not Bothered. 

Debra hosts Flipping 50 TV and the Flipping 50 podcast, an AARP top podcast for 50+ with over 1 million downloads. She is a frequent speaker and TEDx presenter of Everything Women in Menopause Learned About Exercise May Be a Lie. 

She has 36 years of fitness experience, is an International fitness presenter for associations including the International Council on Active Aging, IDEA, NSCA, and Athletic Business, and CanFitPro. She’s an American Council on Exercise Subject Matter Expert, and prior Senior Lecturer in Kinesiology at Iowa State University. Debra is also the founder of and creator of the Flipping 50 Fitness Specialist program for fitness professionals. She’s a frequent contributor at HuffPost, ShareCare, and other featured outlets and on the Education Advisory Board for

Why You’ve Been Exercising Wrong Most of Your Life

If you’ve been listening to The Girlfriend Doctor podcast for any length of time, you know that research into women’s health, especially in our menopausal years, is severely lacking. Unfortunately, this research is no better when it comes to exercise! 

I’m joined by Debra Atkinson to talk about how we can create a sustainable exercise plan that will keep us healthy into our 50s and beyond. Debra explains how she discovered the magic formula of exercise after 50: short, 20-minute bursts of exercise where you really get your heart pumping.

It’s about working out smarter and harder, not longer.

Debra explains what types of exercise menopausal women should be focusing on. We both understand that we’re taught to think that sit-ups and crunches are the keys to a flat and toned stomach. The truth is, these types of exercises that take us into a forward flexion are actually detrimental to our health. 

Instead, we should focus on exercises like planks that work on bracing your core. Debra walks us through a simple exercise that helps us learn what it should feel like to engage our core.

What Kind of Exercise You Should Do After 50

Debra shares how, as a society, we’ve lost the regular daily exercise of yesteryear. Her mother says she doesn’t regret exercising more in her life because the hard daily labor of working on a farm kept her fit and healthy. These changes are why it’s vital for us to keep exercising well into our old age.

The types of exercise we should really focus on are foot movement and flexibility and strength training. Both of these will help us as we age; foot movement is beneficial for helping us move quicker, especially if we have a trip or a fall. Strength training will help our entire body and mind, and Debra explains why.

When it comes to refueling our bodies after a workout, Debra lets us know exactly when and what type of food we should be consuming. There really is a specific time period where refueling does us best. She shares her favorite post-workout food and talks about other options if you’re not a smoothie person.

Finally, Debra encourages you to create a workout routine you can stick to. It should include two strength sessions, three harder 20-minute sessions, and as many walks as you want every week. She also talks about recovery time between sessions and how you can adapt your routine if you don’t feel up to a workout.

Are you ready to reclaim your health and fitness after 50? What’s your favorite type of exercise? As always, you can ask me anything and let me hear your thoughts in the comments on the episode page. If you have questions, email


In This Episode

  • Why the research into women’s health and fitness is lacking [6:00]
  • Why short workouts are the best way to get your exercise in [11:00]
  • Why you should focus on bracing your core with exercise like planks rather than focusing on forwarding flexion with exercises like sit-ups [16:00]
  • A straightforward exercise that engages your core muscles [18:00]
  • How our cultural lifestyle has changed so we don’t get as much daily exercise as we used to [24:00]
  • Why you should focus on exercises that move your feet in different directions [28:00]
  • When and what you should eat after your workout [36:25]
  • How to plan your workout routine that includes flexibility in your schedule and how your body feels [42:00]



“It’s much more beneficial to do less exercise, just do it with more purpose. That’s what I found with all those months sitting in front of my computer, I was barely exercising for 20 minutes, but when you only have 20 minutes, you make every minute count.” [11:11]

“You’ve got to fill this hole up that you’ve dug yourself into. You have to feel good before you can feel great. Restoring before more so that you’ve got the energy to actually do the exercise and you’re looking forward to it, not dreading it.” [24:20]

“If you have a more active life overall, remember that you’re exercising so that you can play more in life. Not just exercising to exercise. Twice a week is your golden ticket.” [34:19]


Resources Mentioned

Get Your Free Gift from Debra Atkinson!

Watch Debra Atkinson’s Ted Talk

Learn more about The Flipping 50 Cafe

Find Debra Atkinson Online

Follow Debra Atkinson on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | LinkedIn

Find Dr. Anna Cabeca Online

Follow Dr. Anna Cabeca on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | YouTube

Join the KetoGreen Community on Facebook

Buy Keto-Green 16

Check out the full episode page