The new year brings health and fitness goals top of mind. For many older women, those goals are weight loss resolutions. For others, they look more like small lifestyle changes. And in some cases, people dive right into programs like the 75 Hard Challenge, a “transformative mental toughness program” that follows strict requirements. While extremely popular this time of year, we wondered if the 75 Hard Challenge was safe for women of a certain age to participate in.
Woman’s World connected with health and fitness experts to find out if the 75 Hard Challenge is something women over 50 should take part in. Find out what they had to say, plus some of our favorite fitness gear that’ll get you motivated to start any kind of health and wellness journey.
What is the 75 Hard Challenge?
Entrepreneur, podcaster, and CEO of the supplement company 1st Phorm Andy Frisella first came up with the 75 Hard Challenge in 2019. Frisella says it’s not a “fitness challenge,” but rather a “transformative mental toughness program.”
“The 75 Hard Challenge [is] a 75-day program designed to cultivate discipline and resilience,” triple board-certified doctor and anti-aging physician Kien Vuu, MD at VuuMD Longevity and Performance Clinic, describes the challenge. “[It] involves specific commitments such as following a strict nutrition plan, performing two 45-minute workouts daily, drinking a gallon of water, reading self-improvement literature, and taking daily progress pictures. While this challenge can be ambitious, its suitability varies, especially among women of different ages and health statuses.“
Frisella’s site has a lot of literature about what’s to be gained from completing the challenge and who might benefit most from it, but there aren’t any actionable steps listed. For that, you have to provide your contact information. So we did, and waited for the 75 Hard Challenge guide to pop into our inbox.
What are the rules for the 75 Hard Challenge?
According to the information Frisella provided via email, the 75 Hard Challenge is as follows. For the next 75 days, participants must:
- Follow the diet of their choice
- Workout twice a day for 45-minute each (one of which should be outdoors)
- Not consume alcohol or cheat meals
- Snap a progress picture daily
- Drink 1 gallon of water daily
- Read 10 pages of a book (audiobooks don’t count)
Should women over 50 participate in the 75 Hard Challenge?
Regardless of your age (and Frisella says this on his site), you should always consult with your doctor before starting any kind of diet or exercise journey. Everyone’s body is built differently and the impacts certain fitness and lifestyle choices will have on a person vary from individual to individual.
We can’t stress that enough! Before starting any kind of diet or exercise program, talk with your doctor.
After consulting with dietitians and doctors, Women’s World learned there are a lot of conflicting viewpoints when it comes to the 75 Hard Challenge and older women. “This challenge is a safe and wonderful thing for most healthy adult women to adhere to in order to see the benefits of routine and what it takes to form a habit,” says Destini Moody, a registered and licensed dietitian and the founder of The Athlete’s Dietitian.
“However, women over 50 should check with their doctor if they need to be on a special diet, if any prescription medications require modifications or if osteoporosis is present,” she adds. According to Moody, older women are most at risk of brittle bones. If that’s the case, weight-bearing and resistance exercise is the name of the game as opposed to more intense workouts that can increase the risk of fractures. The 75 Hard Challenge doesn’t dictate the type of diet or workout program you have to follow, which means it’s very flexible!
Elizabeth Ward, MS, RDN and Co-author of The Menopause Diet Plan, A Natural Guide to Managing Hormones, Health and Happiness, has a different opinion of the challenge. “Hard 75 sends up a number of warning flags for me, particularly for women over the age of 50,” says Ward.
She continues: “About the water: there is no reason to drink a gallon every day. That’s about double what a woman over the age of 50 needs. This is just a gimmick. As for the alcohol, it’s not a bad idea to give up alcohol because even small amounts have been associated with a greater risk for breast cancer in women.“
Who shouldn’t participate in the 75 Hard Challenge?
Choosing to participate in the 75 Hard Challenge is a deeply personal choice. But we did ask our experts if there’s anyone who absolutely shouldn’t participate in this kind of journey. According to Moody, “women who have a history of eating disorders or a non-optimal relationship with food should not participate in this challenge.”
She elaborates: “This is because the risk of an eating disorder relapse can increase dramatically when one is prompted to stick to a diet or is restricted from enjoying indulgent meals (referred to here as cheat meals). Finally, those with severe seasonal allergies or asthma should be cautious when performing exercise outside when breathing is elevated, but the respiratory system is vulnerable.”
Ward’s other biggest hold-up is the amount of exercise required in the 75 Hard Challenge. For some women over 50, it’s just not feasible, especially those with underlying health concerns.
“The exercise recommendation is way out of line,” Ward tells us. “Women over 50 may have joint, bone, and muscle issues that make working out for 1.5 hours daily impossible, never mind time restrictions.”
Kathrine Kofoed, a nutritionist and ACE-certified health coach with a Master’s of Science in Human Nutrition from the University of Copenhagen, wouldn’t recommend the 75 Hard Challenge for any woman.
“As a nutritionist who focuses on sustainable behavior change, I would not recommend the 75 hard challenge for women of any age,” says Kofoed. Instead, she suggests focusing on cardio and strength training.
“For women over 50, I would suggest choosing a cardiovascular and strength training workout that they genuinely enjoy and can incorporate 3-5x/week,” Kofoed says. “I would [also] encourage a nutrient rich diet with a lot of plant foods, and recommend aiming for 30g of protein per meal (something many 50+ women are not getting enough of).”
The bottom line: approach any fitness program with caution as you age
Susan Williams, RN and senior health contributor at Retirement Being specializing in aging demographics and elderly care, summarizes it like this: “Even though the ’75 Hard’ challenge may offer structure and goals, older women must approach such programs cautiously, making modifications as necessary. Listening to one’s body and seeking medical advice is crucial in ensuring any fitness or lifestyle challenge is beneficial and not detrimental to health.”
75 Easy Challenge might be more suitable for older women
The 75 Hard Challenge isn’t right for everyone. Fortunately, there are plenty of other wellness journey options out there, including your basic daily exercise. Ward suggests older women stick to the recommended 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity a week (a minimum of 30 minutes on most days of the week).
Leigha Verbeem, a Registered Kinesiologist and personal trainer, says the 75 Easy Challenge might be a better place for women over 50 to start, especially if you’ve never engaged in physical activity before. “I also encourage some intuitive movement as well,” Verbeem says. “A workout doesn’t necessarily have to be pushing yourself to the max in the gym with weight lifting and running. It can be pilates, tai chi, yoga, a walk, mobility work, etc. So if you are sore one day, you might opt for a gentle yoga workout instead.. It is still a workout.”
Commerce Editor approved workout must-haves for women over 50
No matter what your health and wellness journey looks like, you’ll need the right workout attire, fitness equipment, and supplements to stay motivated and achieve your goals! These are some of our favorites.
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- Jacket for Outdoor Workouts : Another Mile Jacket
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Want more fitness tips and tricks? Keep reading!
This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.