By the time a woman celebrates a half century, her body doesn't have the muscle mass it had at 30 or even 40. In fact, most women lose 3%-5% of their muscle every decade from the age of 30.
Exercise such as walking, running and cycling are great cardiovascular workouts, but strength training can help keep your body younger and stronger for longer. A little strength training a few times per week can turn back your body’s biological age and allow you to enjoy a long, strong second half of life.
The benefits of strength training in your later years are many and varied. More muscle and less fat can reduce your risk of falls, chronic disease, depression and back pain, to name just a few.
By increasing the strength in your legs, shoulders and back, you can reduce your risk of losing balance. Strong core muscles can hold the upper body more effectively to further improve balance.
Good balance is important because a fall in your later years can result in life-altering injuries such as a broken hip.
Age-related muscle loss begins in the 30s. The average loss is 5% per decade but strength training can slow the loss and even turn it around. Despite what some people think, it’s possible for women over the age of 50 to increase their muscle mass.
Ageing makes it harder to keep our weight in check. Many women report increased weight gain particularly around the stomach after menopause. Being overweight can increase the chance of chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, some cancers and stroke. Excess fat also places pressure on organs such as the heart and lungs. Strength training can help shed the unwanted kilos and start replacing the fat with muscle.
Exercise our natural mood lifters. Many women lose self- confidence with age, but achieving your exercise goals and seeing positive changes in your body can give you a sense of accomplishment.
Exercise is a natural stress reliever. By doing some exercise you’re reducing your level of stress hormones. Being able to think clearer after exercise can help with problem solving.
Later in life, the spine naturally curves giving elderly people a hunched over look. By exercising and improving your posture, you can keep your back straight and your shoulders back. A good posture keeps bones and joints aligned and in good working order.
Strength training can increase back and core muscles which support the spine. A stronger back can lead to reducing pain commonly found in the lower back. A stronger back increases mobility.
Much of our outlook on life is how we feel. Strength training can make you feel fitter and stronger so you’re more likely to stay active in the community. In later years, it’s common to feel weak and vulnerable, so elderly people stay home and miss out on activities they would enjoy.
Many people find it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep in their later years. Getting plenty of sleep in your 50s forms good sleep hygiene habits for later in life. Sleep also protects the brain from damage.
Metabolism slows as we age but our love of food and drink doesn’t. Soon we’re consuming more calories than we burn off leading to increased weight. Muscle, even when resting, burns more calories than body fat. So weight training to increase muscle mass will improve your body’s metabolism.
Weight bearing exercise can reduce the risk of osteoporosis, particularly after menopause. For women who already have osteoporosis, strength training can build muscle which helps protect brittle bones from fractures and breaks.