Benefits of Strength Training

by Suzanne Andrews

 

4 Unusual Benefits of Strength Training in Women Over 50

Strength training, an important addition for the health of midlife and older women, is often overlooked. While we are in our 20’s and thirties, we are concerned with getting into that little black dress.  As a clinician who works with women who are middle age and older, I understand that the desire to look good never goes away.  However, as women age, there are far more important reasons to strength train.

  1. One surprising aspect of strength training after 50 is how it affects your endocrine system. That's the system of organs in your body that produce and regulates hormones in your bloodstream.

Yet the myth of getting big, bulky muscles remains. Women don’t have enough testosterone to produce bulky muscles.  While Testosterone is produced in both sexes, (in the ovaries in women and the testes in men); women have about one tenth the amounts of men but it still affects your metabolism by burning fat during exercise along with increasing muscle strength and tone. Testosterone can remain in your bloodstream at elevated levels up to three hours after exercise. In women, strength training can also benefit the intensity of orgasms and that's never a bad thing.

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  1. Strength training helps improve body image… Why? A hormone that helps to breakdown unwanted body fat is estrogen. It increases your metabolism (burns fat as fuel), increases both your libido and your mood. The ovaries produce less of it as menopause is reached but strength training can elevate its levels in the blood for up to four hours after exercising so you feel sexier and happier. Now that's better than a valium and has much better side effects than any anti-depressant. (I do not advocate women stop taking their anti-depressant as they need to check with their doctor).
  1. The greatest loss of bone mass is women going through menopause.  Strength training not only helps women maintain muscle – it helps to maintain bone mass and reduces risk for numerous chronic diseases. 

Osteoporosis is a major health threat for 44 million Americans every year. One out of every two women will get osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is known as the silent killer because half of the population who have low bone mass are not aware of it. Osteoporosis puts people at a much higher risk for painful bone fractures that are sometimes fatal. Over 300,000 seniors a year fracture their hip from a fall with sometimes serious complications, including death, from hip fractures.

As we get older, the tissues that comprise the heart, lungs, arteries and veins weaken. Strength training slows that deterioration by keeping higher levels of blood, oxygen and hormones flowing.

After age 50, you lose 1 -2% of muscle strength per year.  After 60, you lose 3% a year, which comes out to about 4.5 pounds of muscle strength a year.

Your legs get weaker three years before your arms start becoming weak and that's why you'll notice it's becoming difficult to walk like you used to.

Your bicep muscles in your arms help you lift stuff and your triceps help you push up to a stand.

Not all the muscles that are important to move your arms are located in your arms: your latissimus dorsi (located in your back) pulls your shoulders back and your arms to your sides.) 

While strong legs are important, strong arms are also vital for a fully functional life.  With strong arms you can lift your baby/grand-baby out of a car seat with ease, carry in groceries, get items of the top shelf and get in and out of the tub without injuring yourself. 

  1. What many women are unaware of is that calcium is needed for heart conduction.  If a woman has thinning bones and doesn’t have enough calcium, the body will remove calcium from the bones to give it to the heart to avoid a heart attack. So in essence, strong bones helps to decrease thinning bones and could potentially help with heart disease.

Suzanne Andrews founded Functional Fitness in 2008, the most popular fitness series for boomers and seniors broadcasting on over 159 Public Television stations throughout the US and Canada. Read Suzanne’s inspiring comeback story of how she survived a near fatal accident, From Deaths Door to Producing a National Fitness Series. Feel free to send Suzanne a message here.

By Collage Video | | cardio, exercise, Functional Fitness, goals, Healthy, practice, Suzanne Andrews, Weekly Blog, Wellness |
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