Did you know that strength training is critical to women's health as we age? This is because as we age our bone density, muscle tone, and ability to lose weight decrease while our muscular imbalances and joint dysfunction increase. These things all affect our ability to carry out activities of daily living (ADL) and impact our quality of life. Strength training can have a positive effect in all these areas.
And let me dispel right now the myth I hear all the time: No, you won't get big and bulky from light to moderate strength training and no you don’t have to lift heavy weights. So, now that we've gotten rid of that excuse, read on!
1. Increase Bone Health
Our bones respond to exercise just like the rest of our body. Weight-bearing exercises such as strength training are the most effective way to build bone mass (density and strength) density as we age. Bones get stronger as they work against gravity to perform exercises.
2. Improve Muscular Imbalances & Joint Stability
Issues with muscles or joints that go unresolved can result in some muscles being under-worked (shortened) forcing supporting muscles to compensate or even take over the load completely (become lengthened and overworked). This can lead to muscular imbalances that put greater stress on joints. Strength training can help to improve muscular imbalances which can lead to greater joint stability and reduced risk of injury.
3. Increase Ability to Perform Activities of Daily Living
Sitting, standing, picking up grandchildren, and carrying in groceries are all activities that become harder as we age, particularly if we have poor muscle tone and joint instability. Strength training exercises that focus on large muscle groups and frequently used joints improve the body’s ability to carry out ADLs more efficiently. Flexibility and stabilization exercise play an important role in ADLs as well, but that’s the subject of another post.
4. Improve & Maintain Muscle Tone
This may seem obvious to state that strength training improves muscle tone. However, maintaining muscle tone requires deliberate action; use it or lose it. And speaking of losing it…did you know that when you lose weight, you don’t just lose fat? If you’re not combining strength training into your weight loss program or diet, you run the risk of losing precious muscle. And that is a big risk for women over 40’s because…well…see reason #3.