The benefits of strength training are numerous! Today I am going to tell you about five of them.
From the age of about 30 we start to lose muscle mass at the rate of 1-3% per year. This is called sarcopenia. During menopause (I use the term menopause to cover both peri and post menopause) our declining hormones means that this muscle loss accelerates and muscle protein synthesis – the ability to build muscle – is lessened. So ladies, we need to work harder at retaining or building our muscle then we did when we were younger.
Why? I hear you ask. Maybe you prefer running or swimming or maybe you don’t like gyms or you feel that you may look unfeminine with bulging muscles. Well, I understand your dislike of the gym particularly at the moment but I can reassure you that you don’t need to go to a gym and you won’t end of looking like a body builder (unless you want to of course!).
So here are 5 benefits of strength training also known as resistance training.
- It reduces our risk of developing osteoporosis. Falling levels of oestrogen during menopause leaves us at risk of a number of physical problems and diseases including heart disease, dementia, type 2 diabetes, and osteoporosis as well as joint aches and pains. Strength training can play a huge roll in keeping these conditions at bay. The main cause of osteoporosis is bone loss due to a drop in oestrogen levels which is why so many more women suffer from it than men. Osteoporosis is serious. The most common injuries after a fall are hip and wrist fractures and a significant number of people die within a year of a hip fracture. Osteoporosis is a disease which often goes undetected until the person experiences a bone fracture. At best osteoporosis is debilitating. Strength training offsets the decline in bones density. It provides the stimulus to both build and maintain bone strength and protect your skeleton with increased lean muscle.
2. Strength train is empowering! I like being able to move furniture and put my suitcase in the overhead locker (those were the days!) I am stronger now than I was in my 30s and it feels good. Strength training helps women feel confident and courageous and this spills out into all areas of their lives. There are numerous stories of women who have gained physical strength and found this has helped them in their careers. There are the aesthetic benefits of strength training too – our muscles become more toned and our bodies leaner. This can boost self -esteem and make us feel good and there is nothing wrong with that!
3. Strength training can help with menopausal weight gain. Strength training combined with the right nutrition can help keep the menopausal belly at bay. We can’t spot reduce belly fat or any fat for that matter but increased muscle does give your metabolism a boost. Muscle is metabolically active so it uses the food we eat efficiently and improves insulin sensitivity which means that cells in our bodies use blood glucose more effectively. It is worth emphasising here that exercise of any type alone will not lead to weight loss. Both diet and stress levels also need to be addressed. Strength training can also help with other typical menopause symptoms. Research shows that symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats are less severe for women with more muscle and less fat.
4. Strength training can help with our mental health. Menopause can be a challenging time for many women. Anxiety is one of the most common symptoms of menopause as is depression. Many women find themselves having negative thoughts about the way in which their body is changing. Menopause often coincides with a period in women’s lives where they are coping with teenage children, ageing parents and a demanding career. This added stress doesn’t help them manage their menopause symptoms and can put a big strain on marriages and other relationships. Strength training ensures your body body produces the much needed biochemicals serotonin and endorphins which have positive mood boosting affects on us. Amanda Thebe, in her book Menopocalypse, talks about how strength training helped her come through depression and how it was very much part of her survival plan. We are all different of course, but undoubtedly strength training can help many women particularly when combined with good nutrition and self care practices.
5. Strength training helps us age well . Menopause represents a great opportunity to put in place habits which will help us age well. Strength training encourages good posture which, in turn, means we are less likely to injure ourselves. Increasing our lean body mass protects the body and when your body is stressed through exercise, that is, when you work harder than before and experience some mild discomfort, your body will recover much quicker. Also, think about who you want to be when you are older? Do you want to be an active older person who can get up and down from the floor, play with the grandchildren, get in and out of cars easily, travel confidently, lift your suitcase onto luggage racks, hike, play tennis, etc I know I want to be that person.
Let’s not let the old lady in!
You don’t have to join a gym to improve your body strength. You can use our own body weight, or invest in some home kit such as dumbbells, fitness bands or kettle bells. You also don’t need to set aside huge chunks of time – try to find 20 to 30 minutes 3 times a week or even just 5/10 minutes everyday. Leave some dumbbells in the kitchen and use them while you wait for the kettle to boil!
If you a new to strength training and would like some guidance please contact me. I work in person or online. You can book a free discovery chat here or send me an email at email@example.com