Older Women Get 10 Years Younger With Strength Training
By Muscle Media
Fitness for women is not the sole domain of the body conscious or 20 somethings. Discover how the changes in a group of post-menopausal women following a training program led them to activities their children were doing – including rollerblading and white-water rafting through the Grand Canyon!
Strength training has a lot of advantages for women, and particularly for women aged 35 and older. By the age of 40, women typically begin to lose bone density and muscle mass. One study at Tufts University was designed by the author of “Strong Women Stay Young”, Miriam Nelson PhD. Dr. Nelson found that the women were 15 to 20 years “younger” after one year of weight training instead of losing bone density and muscle mass. They not only gained bone density, but their strength tests matched women who were in their 30’s and 40’s.
The women in this study were all post-menopausal. Most of them were in their 50’s and 60’s. They made some remarkable changes in their lives as they got stronger. One woman described going rollerblading with her children. Another went canoeing with her husband. More than any pills or potions, strength training gave these women back their youthfulness. Some discovered youthful energy they didn’t ever have to that degree. These women didn’t diet, but they did end up looking slimmer. Some lost 1 or 2 dress sizes. They all replaced pudgy fat with muscle. They looked slimmer, although the scales did not change very much. Because muscle is denser than fat.
The women in this strength training program used leg weights and adjustable hand weights. They started at any level they were able to, even if these were the lightest weights available. They didn’t buy lots of expensive equipment or home gyms. Many of these small weights can be bought locally. With a little research you can buy them second hand. As they gradually developed their strength, they invested in heavier weights.
They started with 1-3 kilograms in each cuff of the strap on ankle weights. The suggested ankle cuffs could hold up to 10 kilograms each. The dumbbells they used for their arms were adjustable, and they started with 1-2 kilograms. The only other equipment they needed was a chair, somewhere to store the weights, and a towel. Because you’re working out in your own home you don’t need to buy expensive gym clothes or worry about feeling like the odd one out.
The workout itself was taken from the book, “Strong Women Stay Young”. It covers a range of basic exercises. The workouts don’t take too much time. It was suggested they perform twice a week. Each session takes about 40 minutes including warming up and cooling down.
Tips for Women Working Out with Weights at Home
- Make sure the area you’re working in doesn’t have rugs, electrical cords, toys and other items that you can trip over.
- Keep your pets and young children away from this area while you’re working out.
- If you’re using a chair when you do exercises, make sure it’s on a carpet that won’t slide. around. Put the chair against the wall so it remains stable, if you don’t have carpet.
- If you have problems with your back, you’ll need to be careful when you’re carrying your free weights around. Take a few trips to carry things if you have to move them in or out of a storage area. And make sure you lift them properly by bending your knees and moving slowly.
- It helps to keep the weights you’re not currently using in their container. For the reason that, they can’t be knocked off by curious children.
- If you’re using leg weights, don’t walk around with them on. It could affect your balance. If you trip on something, you’re more likely to injure yourself than normal.
- Keep the cellphone off. That way if someone calls you won’t be interrupted
- Make sure you have some drinking water nearby to stay hydrated.
- Don’t drink any alcohol, even a little bit, an hour before you exercise.
- Try and make sure you haven’t just eaten a meal before you work out. But, make sure you’re not starving! You could become light headed or dizzy when you work out.
- Don’t forget to warm up!
- If you’re using weights, try doing them in front of a mirror so you can check your posture and your form. You’ll get more out of the exercise and work the right muscles. Sometimes posture becomes so habitual we don’t realize it’s not quite right until we see it.
- If you’re using weights, a good posture means your chin is down slightly, aligned with your neck. Your neck is in line with your spine, shoulders are straight and not stiff, back is straight, and your knees are not locked or bent. Your pelvis should be slightly tucked under.
- When using weights, do the lifts slowly. This really works the muscles instead of letting the motion do the work for you.
- Make sure you pause for a 2-count between lifting the weight up, and lowering it
- Don’t hold your breath while you’re lifting weights. Given that we’re contracting muscles, sometimes we unconsciously hold our breaths at the same time. Remember to breathe, but don’t go the other extreme and hyperventilate!
References: Miriam Nelson and Sarah Wernick, Strong Women Stay Young (Lothian)
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