10/01/2011 03:38 pm ET Updated Dec 01, 2011

Moderate Exercise Makes Middle-Aged Women Happier, Study Shows

We all know the benefits of cardio and lifting weights, but one question always remains: How much, how hard and how often do we need to workout to reach our goals?

According to Reuters Health, researchers from Penn State University have found that women aged 40 to 60 reported feeling more confident and energized after a half an hour of moderate exercise than those who had a strenuous workout.

Moderate-intensity exercises are "activities that would allow you to talk in short sentences while you are doing them, but would not allow you to sing," Steriani Elavsky, the lead author of a new Penn State University study, told Reuters.

Take a look at Reuters' seven suggestions of moderate exercises, then scroll down to keep reading:


Middle-aged women are among the least active demographic groups, and their physical activity tends to decrease with age, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Penn State study, however, showed that women who exercised at moderate intensity were more likely to stay active. Many of those who worked out vigorously reported feeling sad or anxious afterward, Reuters said.

Keep in mind that the study focused on mood changes with exercise, not the health benefits. The Department of Health contends vigorous physical activity—activity that causes heavy sweating or large increases in heart rate—is better than moderate activity for maintaining cardiorespiratory fitness.

Dr. Marc Gillinov, a heart surgeon with Cleveland Clinic, summed it up nicely when he told THV that the important thing is just to make exercise part of your daily routine.

"The key is not to achieve some percentage of your target heart rate. What you want to do is exercise. They key goal isn't this heart rate or that heart rate. The calculation isn't figuring out by calculator, my target heart rate. The calculation is where in my day can I find 30 minutes to exercise?"