There is such a focus on women fighting the external effects of aging, and very little attention given to the major internal changes that occur. Take a stroll down the beauty aisle (usually it’s more than one) and there are countless products designed to fight every conceivable sign of aging; from skin to hair to make-up to teeth whitening. The emphasis on fighting and covering up the effects of aging is a billion dollar industry, yet none of these products truly address the age related changes that need addressing.
The bodily changes that occur as women age are staggering, and their effects are felt in a way that no lipstick can fix. After age 30, women lose lean muscle, gain fat, lose strength, lose balance, have decreases in bone density and metabolism, and can lose up to 1cm of height due to postural issues. All of these issues start to interfere with activities of daily living as well as self-esteem, and place women at an increased risk for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.
Wait this is supposed to be an uplifting blog right….? Well what if I tell you that there is something women can do that can counteract all of these effects?
Ladies I have two words for you: Strength Training.
Strength training (or resistance training) is working specific muscle groups against some type of resistance (either body weight or by adding external weight such as dumbbells, bands, etc.) and it is the BEST way you can combat and even halt the inevitable changes that accompany the aging process. Unlike long duration cardio workouts that actually increase free radicals and thereby accelerate our cells aging, strength training increases the number of mitochondria, the energy-burning structures inside cells. This affects every part of our bodies from our skin to our bones to brain function!
Ok but scientific-jargon aside, there are many other benefits to strength training, both internal and external. Women who want to be toned and to fight the gravitational effects on our bodies would benefit greatly from strength training as well as women who have hit a plateau. Lean muscle takes up less space than fat in our bodies so adding strength training to your program will greatly improve your chances of getting to your target size. Other benefits include:
Increased metabolism and burning more calories at rest
Increased strength and lean muscle
Improved cholesterol and blood pressure
Increasing bone density which helps to prevent osteoporosis.
A reduction in injury risk, and in particular low back pain.
Increased self confidence and decreased anxiety and depression
Improvements in coordination, posture, flexibility and balance
Improved brain function-warding off memory loss and dementia
Incredible right? Unfortunately despite the multitude of benefits of strength training, fewer than 17% of women do it! Starting a program can seem intimidating and confusing for some, and several women mistakenly believe that lifting weights will make you bulky which is completely erroneous. (Women do not produce enough testosterone to produce bulk.) Some don’t realize that bodyweight is sufficient and think it requires a gym membership or fancy equipment, so they shy away from it.
However if a woman wants to optimize her health, achieve anti-aging benefits that no cream can produce, feel and look better about herself, with an exercise that does not require long duration, then strength training is an absolute must!