Women and Weights
Choose to be Stronger
I know, I know. I rant on about just how amazing yoga is and how it continues to keep me strong and flexible- in body and mind - and after a wonderful 4 days at the incredibly peaceful Cliffs of Moher retreat I want to inspire other #MidLifers to appreciate these benefits too.
We know that with regular exercise everything improves – our skin, our hair, our heart, our brain and memory, while the risk of many diseases drops. We also know that muscle loss speeds up rapidly after menopause, but many of you may not realise just how important weight bearing or resistance exercise is in this mix. Resistance training includes any form of exercise that increases strength by utilising resistance, such as lifting weights, using bands and strength building forms of yoga (think ashtanga, dynamic vinyasa flow, Kundalini and others). The good news for women is that research has shown that while men reach their peak strength in their late 20s and early 30s, women can maintain and develop peak strength into their 40s and early 50s - so its not too late to start!
Muscle is metabolically active tissue. In other words, it burns calories when it’s working, repairing and refuelling itself. Fat burns very few calories - it tends to hoard them instead. Muscle takes up significantly less mass than fat, thereby helping you reduce your physical size while training. While changes in fat distribution are partly the result of hormonal changes during midlife, the overall weight gain that can happen during our middle years is more to do with the effects of ageing (less exercise and loss of muscle mass) than anything else.
The key benefits of resistance training include:
- Increases muscle strength
- Tones muscles - think tighter abs!
- Strengthens bones and helps prevent osteoporosis
- Increases metabolism
- Increases confidence & self esteem
- Builds new muscle mass and protects remaining muscle mass
And no, you don't have to pump iron or lift heavy weights at the gym every day to feel the benefits as recent research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology shows that it is not the actual weight being lifted that gave results but sufficient repetition to attain almost total muscular fatigue that increase their muscles’ size and strength.
The overall aim should be to work all the major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abs, arms and shoulders) twice a week at a minimum. Training can be varied and could include 1-2 yoga sessions and 1 using resistance bands or your own body weight per week. If you are new to exercise then it's worth investing in a few sessions with a qualified personal trainer who will tailor a programme for you. Remember, the key to getting stronger is to work your muscles until they are tired and there is some discomfort.
No pain, no gain?