A well-rounded fitness program includes not only aerobic activity such as walking, jogging, or playing sports, but also weight lifting. While this type of exercise may bring to mind images of Arnold Schwarzenegger and heavy barbells, in reality, there are many fun and creative ways to incorporate strength training into your weekly routine.
The benefits of weight lifting are especially important to women as they age. Everyone, beginning around age 25, starts to lose muscle mass, though the actual symptoms of this loss do not usually begin showing up until around the age of 40 or so. The process, called sarcopenia, begins really picking up speed after the age of 65. In fact, around the age of 40, most women will lose almost a half-pound of muscle every year and replace it with fat.1
This loss of muscle can translate to a lack of balance and mobility, weak bones, falls and fractures. The good news is, no matter what your age or current fitness level, there’s a way to combat age-related muscle loss.
To incorporate weight lifting into your workouts, you can start with hand weights, using bodyweight, or using resistance bands. An excellent bodyweight exercise is the basic squat. Standing with feet shoulder-width apart, slowly lower yourself into a sitting position, making sure your knees don’t go past your toes. You can hold your arms out in front of you for balance. Slowly raise yourself back into a standing position, and repeat, three sets of ten to twelve repetitions. This type of exercise helps build up large muscle groups like your quads and glutes, which contribute to stability and better posture.
As you incorporate strength training into your fitness plan, you will notice a transformation in your body. You will have more energy, you will perform everyday tasks with noticeably more ease and your clothes will begin sagging on you because you will be building muscle and burning up the fat deposits. You will have better balance and greater confidence.
And perhaps best of all is the insurance policy you pay premiums on every time you choose to lift, because you are establishing a strong, solid foundation for your later years. You are laying up health, independence and the ability to live well, not just long.
1 Strong Women Stay Young by Miriam E. Nelson Ph.D. Page 22.