Let’s cut to the chase: Resistance training is fantastic for women over 50. When someone says they’re too old to lift weights, I tell them they’re too old not to.
Resistance training—also weightlifting, strength training or strength conditioning—simply involves working your muscles against some form of resistance. That resistance could be dumbbells, weights, machines, exercise bands, or simply your own body weight.
Obviously resistance training and weightlifting are great for everyone. I think we’ve finally gotten past the stereotype that lifting weights is only for young men who want to bulk up. Women of all ages can reap the benefits of this kind of exercise.
But as you get older, resistance training becomes that much more important for women’s bodies. Without training, women lose 5% muscle mass every year after 50.
But with properly supervised resistance training, you can maintain your health, and even better, if you do it right, thrive as you age.
Here’s what resistance training does for you:
1. Increased Lean Muscle and Strength
No, we don’t mean “bulk.” Muscles don’t have to be visibly prominent to do a ton of good. We need muscle mass to continue doing the things we love and to stay independent. (See our blog about functional fitness here.)
Unfortunately, women naturally lose muscle mass as we age because of hormonal changes. So even if you’ve always been able to carry your groceries just fine, that task is going to become harder and harder as you get older.
So let’s be proactive about it! Let’s lift to get strong and stay strong.
2. Better Bone Density
It’s not just your muscles that diminish as you age. Your bones get weaker, too. Women account for 80% of Americans with osteoporosis. That puts you at an incredible risk for life-changing bone breaks.
The good news is, resistance training builds better bones. The National Institutes of Health has concluded that resistance exercise “may be the most optimal strategy to improve the muscle and bone mass in postmenopausal women.” The subtle pressure of bearing weight, plus the pull of connective tissue between muscle and bone, stimulates bone production. That means stronger, denser bones.
3. Decreased Fat/Increased Metabolism
Muscles burn calories, simple as that. The more muscle you have, the more fuel your body burns.
Heart health is another big concern as you age. Less body fat means a healthier cardiovascular system.
4. Better Balance and Mobility
Your strong bones from resistance training are less likely to break if you have a fall, but resistance training also means you’re less likely to fall in the first place.
Balance problems are caused, in part, when your body isn’t strong enough to hold you upright through various movements, changes in momentum, and shifts in weight.
When done under the guidance of an expert, resistance training strengthens whole groups of muscles, big and small, so that they are stable as well as coordinated through a variety of motions: sitting and standing, bending over, carrying weight, going up and down steps, walking and changing direction.
5. Improved Mental Health
To put it simply: Exercise promotes the happy chemicals in your brain.
On top of that, all of these benefits of resistance training factor into your mental health, too. Strength and balance mean confidence and independence.
Getting older shouldn’t be something you surrender to. It’s never too late to feel powerful.
We’re here to help you start your resistance training routine today. One-on-one personal training and small classes are available.