The Importance of Strength Training for Women
by: Ruth Williams of ALL IN HEALTH
Throughout the years, and now as a woman gracefully aging her way into middle age, I have learned the importance of strength training and weight bearing exercise. It is so important to mix this type of exercise in with your regular cardio routine as it has an important function in keeping us healthy, especially as we age.
You don’t need to head to the local gym or CrossFit Box to pump some iron though. Exercises using your own body weight, including crunches, push-ups, pull-ups and squats, are included in the weight bearing exercise category. Even walking, hiking, and dancing are weight bearing exercises. Make the choice to take the stairs instead of the elevator also adds some weight bearing exercise to your day seamlessly. Another idea for some strength training is the use of resistance tubes; bands which resist as they are stretched and can be used with many different muscle groups. I love resistance tubes because they take up less space at home than weights.
Did you know that broken hips in the elderly population are not necessarily the result of falling but that the bones and joints fail causing the fall? Many of you may not think that you are part of the demographic of middle-aged, but I suggest that you start planning for that time so that you can prevent many problems before they occur and not play catch-up. Why? Because loss of bone density over the long-term is the recipe for Osteoporosis. Right now, as a post-menopausal woman, I am at the highest risk and this type of exercise is essential for the prevention of bone loss. I want to walk tall well into my later years and since I am not known for my grace, when I trip and fall, strong bones tend not to break!
Here are some of the benefits of adding strength training and weight bearing exercises:
As mentioned above, bone density naturally goes as we age, and strength training both encourages the formation of new bone cells and strengthens the bones overall.
- Another benefits of resistance training include helping with joint function, boosting heart and lung health, raising your body’s levels of HDL “good” cholesterol, and helping to prevent the onset of diabetes.
- It has been linked to improved memory and cognitive function in older women too. I hope to be a force to be reckoned with in my old age!
- Weight-bearing exercise is also important to preserve muscle mass and muscle strength, which also tends to decrease as we age. As your muscle mass diminishes, your body fat percentage tends to naturally increase, and your metabolism slows down too. Preserve that muscle mass to keep that metabolism fire going!
Ladies, it’s not too late to start a strength training regimen. Researchers have shown that after only 16 weeks, people in a study who did resistance trained displayed the greatest reduction in body weight, belly fat and blood sugar levels, as well as the highest increase in lean body mass percentage over individuals who just did cardio exercises.
An exercise routine of both cardio and strength training, a diet with of whole, natural foods, is the best way of ensuring yourself the best possible chance at optimal health throughout your life, including increasing your lifespan! Eat those leafy greens, nuts and seeds for the Magnesium as well as Calcium and Vitamin D!
Beachbody has some amazing resistance training workouts that you can do in the comfort of your own home with most requiring minimal time, space or equipment. PiYo would be an excellent choice for a low-impact, body-weight strength training program. Reach out to me for more information or advice on which programs might work for you!
In Health and Fitness, Ruth