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7 Benefits of Strength Training for Women Over 50


Woman over 50 performing strength training exercises to improve muscle mass and bone health.


Entering our 50s and navigating midlife doesn’t mean slowing down. In fact, it's a prime opportunity to think about what activities--from daily living to recreational--we would like to keep enjoying now and well into the future. Strength training is often overlooked, but it’s one of the most, if not THE most, important skills to learn and habits to create so that we can maintain vitality and independence as we age. This is especially true for women going through or having completed menopause, with all the physical changes and mood shifts that can come with it.


Incorporating strength training into your routine can be transformative, improving everything from building bone and muscle strength to boosting overall health and well-being. Let's dive into some of the key benefits of strength training and discover how they can make midlife your best life.


1. Prevent Osteoporosis & Increase Bone Health with Strength Training

Osteoporosis poses a significant health risk as we age, particularly for women in perimenopause and postmenopause. Strength training can not only help stop the progression of bone loss but can even increase bone mineral density. By engaging in regular resistance exercise that is heavy enough and frequent enough, you can reduce the risk of fractures. This is crucial for sustaining mobility and independence.


2. Maintain & Build Muscle for Women Over 50

Just as we want to preserve bone density, we also want to hold on to and build muscle. Women over 50 can lose a significant amount of muscle, sometimes feeling like it happened overnight, especially if illness and injury limit activity. This is because as we age, the body's natural process of building and breaking down tissue (like muscle, tendons, and ligaments) becomes less efficient. When we were younger, our bodies built and repaired tissue quicker than it broke it down. In midlife, this process reverses, and the body breaks down tissue faster than it can repair and build it (which without intervention can lead to a debilitating disease called as sarcopenia). But strength training for women over 50 can significantly slow muscle and tissue breakdown, and even reverse it, building more muscle.


3. Better Blood Sugar Management Through Resistance Exercise

The body’s ability to manage blood sugar becomes less efficient in midlife, and the menopausal transition can amplify this impact on our metabolic health. Strength training can improve this by building the muscle mass needed to absorb sugar circulating in the bloodstream. Additionally, exercise helps dispose of sugars without the use of insulin, making strength training a win-win for managing blood sugar. This is particularly beneficial for women over 50, who might be experiencing metabolic changes due to menopause.


4. Increase Functional Fitness & Decrease Injury Risk with Strength Training

The tasks of daily life, whether it's carrying groceries or playing with grandchildren, require a blend of strength, flexibility, stability and balance. Strength training allows you to perform everyday and recreational activities with more ease and enjoyment while also reducing the risk of injury.


5. Reduce Chronic Pain & Fatigue with Strength Training

Regular strength training can be instrumental in managing chronic conditions such as arthritis, back pain, and disorders related to hypermobility. Strengthening the muscles around affected joints can alleviate discomfort while improving mobility and stability. Moreover, improving the body’s efficiency through strategically programmed exercises can decrease the fatigue that often accompanies chronic pain and illness, increasing energy levels.


6. Improve Brain & Cognitive Health with Strength Training

Research is still in the early stages, but the link between strength training and improve brain and cognitive health is strong. Increased blood flow, reduced inflammation, and positive changes in hormone profiles elicited by strength training are believed to play an important role in improving brain function, memory, and learning.


7. Boost Mood & Mental Health with Resistance Exercise

The mental health benefits of physical activity are well-documented, and strength training is no exception. Going through the menopausal transition can increase symptoms of depression and anxiety due to the physical, mental, and life changes. However, regular strength training workouts and learning new skills release feel-good neurotransmitters that can help decrease these symptoms and boost self-confidence.


Q: Is strength training for women over 50 too strenuous or likely to cause injuries?

A: Rest assured that with skillful coaching and strategic exercise programming, not only is strength training safe for women over 50, but it can also decrease pain and injury risk.


Key Principles to Keep in Mind When Starting Strength Training Over 50

  • Equipment: Strength training equipment can include your own bodyweight, resistance bands, dumbbells, machines or even household items like books or jugs of water.

  • Exercises: Compound movements and their many variations like squats and bridges for lower body, and pushups and rows for upper body will give you the most benefit for your time and effort.

  • Frequency: 2-3 times a week and aim for consistency with your workouts.

  • Intensity: Start with bodyweight and/or supported bodyweight exercises that you can do 5 - 10 repetitions of with good form.

  • Progression: Gradually increase the intensity and/or the volume of your exercises. Getting midlife fit means priortizing quality training over quantity and planning enough rest and recovery between sets and training sessions.

  • If it hurts, stop: Exercise should be challenging, not painful. If an exercise causes pain, stop immediately. There are so many exercises to choose from and modify to suit your needs, none of them should hurt. Remember that the goal of exercise is to increase your fitness, not leave you feeling sore and exhausted.


Q: How can strength training benefit women over 50?

A: Strength training for women over 50 can increase bone density, build muscle, manage blood sugar levels, increase fitness, decrease injury risk, boost mood and cognition and improve overall health and wellbeing.


If you’re ready to take advantage of these (and more!) health and fitness benefits with the support and guidance of a certified personal trainer who is also a woman over 50, I’m here to help. To learn more and to book your complimentary consultation, visit my website for virtual 1:1 personal training or in-person 1:1 personal training in Del Mar, CA.


 

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