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  • Writer's pictureJenny Henderson

Resistance Training - the must do for over 40's

The benefits of resistance training as you get older are truly astounding. If you're looking to slow down ageing and stay younger and vibrant through your 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond, then science shows again and again that resistance training is vital.

Forty is a turning point in life for most women: Our bodies begin to undergo the changes of perimenopause, including risk of muscle fibre shrinkage, higher blood pressure, loss of bone density and unwanted weight gain.

Each decade after 40, muscle declines by a whopping 10 per cent! However, the addition of a good resistance training program can assist in keeping/building that all important muscle. It’s the old principle ‘use it or lose it.’ If you aren’t putting sufficient stress on your muscles, as the weeks pass by, slowly you’ll grow weaker, which can make everyday activities harder to perform.

Don’t worry; you will NOT get bulky from doing resistance training. That’s a myth that has no merit.

If you have been avoiding resistance training, you’re missing out on one of the best fat-loss methods around and fat loss is just the tip of the iceberg. Here are some of the many benefits of resistance training.

#1: Boosts Metabolism – There’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to lose weight as easily as when you were in your 20s or 30s. However, the more lean muscle you build, the more calories you burn. Muscle has a higher metabolic rate than fat, so the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn not only during exercise but also at rest.

#2: Increases your Strength – It’s no secret that muscle mass naturally declines with age. Not only does building muscle shape and tone you, helping you look better, but it also allows you to experience a better quality of life. It gives you more strength for playing with your kids, picking things up, and all of the other daily activities that require strength.

#3: Improves Bone-Density – Like metabolism and muscle mass, your bone density naturally declines with age. This is an issue for a number of reasons. Weak and fragile bones not only put you at a greater risk for bone fractures, they’ll also limit your mobility and impact your posture. When physical loads (progressively and within reason) are placed on bones during physical exercise, bone mineral density improves, decreasing the risk of breakage. Additionally, weight training can reduce the hallmark symptoms of arthritis – stiffness and joint pain.

#4: Lowers your Injury risk - Resistance training improves joint stability and builds stronger ligaments and tendons. It stretches you in ways that you don't normally move in daily activities, and in doing so increases the strength in connective tissues and tendons. Training safely and with proper form can help decrease the likelihood of injuries in your daily life.

#5: Promotes Better Quality Sleep – Another big complaint of women over 40 is difficulty going to sleep and getting good quality sleep. Any form of exercise can be good for improving sleep patterns, but resistance training has been shown to improve hormonal balance, which significantly increases quality of sleep.

#6: Improves your Mood – We know that exercise can effect the brain by increasing the production of serotonin, the brain hormone that makes us feel good. This is no different for resistance training, in fact serotonin, dopamine and endorphins release can be even greater. It also enhances the blood vessels’ ability to carry oxygen to the brain which can improve mood too.  But there’s more to it than that..... As you lift a certain weight, achieve a full push-up or a certain number of squats you feel your body can achieve something instantly measurable, that provides instantaneous feedback to your motivation system. It spurs you on to do more and filters into other areas of your life and changes the way you see yourself and take on challenges. 

#7: Improves your Body Image – There are a number of reasons people work out. But often one of the main motivators to exercise is to look better. Resistance training makes you leaner, stronger, and more toned, which in turn can increase your confidence and self image.

#8: More Energy – It sounds counterintuitive, but doing resistance training can help you feel more energised throughout the day. The exercise will help release endorphins, improving your mood and raise your energy levels.

#9: Improves Sports Fitness – Your don't have to be an athlete to get the sports benefits of resistance training. Improved muscle mass and strength will help you in all physical activities, whether its biking with the family, gardening, golfing or skiing.

#10: Improves Overall Health – Studies have demonstrated the benefits of resistance training for lowering blood pressure, resting heart rate, insulin sensitivity, and triglycerides. These are all factors related to diabetes, heart attack, and obesity in women over the age of 40. By improving these markers through resistance training you will greatly decrease your chance of these life-threatening conditions.

#11: Increases Sex Drive – Many women in their 40s complain about not having the same sex drive as when they were in their 20s and 30s. You now know that strength training improves sleep quality, energy levels, and self-confidence. It also increases testosterone production (yes, ladies, that’s a good thing!) and oestrogen balance, which significantly boosts sex drive (Partners watch out!).

So there we have 11 benefits that all assist in our ageing process, so why wouldn't we add some resistance training to reap all of these rewards?

Resistance training doesn't have to be lifting heavy weights. In fact, one of the best strength-training methods is bodyweight exercises. You are still putting stimulus on your muscles when performing basic bodyweight exercises such as squats, pushups, and lunges and you don’t even need a gym membership to experience the benefits!

You can do resistance exercises using bodyweight, resistance bands or dumbbells (even water bottles/baked bean cans) and you can do these anywhere. Muscle builds up surprisingly quickly, even from the first session of exercise when you get sore, that minor damage repairs itself and you become stronger. With as little as 20-30 minutes 2-3 times a week you should soon start to see and feel the benefits.

If you have any questions or would like help with resistance training please feel free to contact me.

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