I’ve been in the fitness and wellness industry since 2001. A Lot has changed in the last 22 years both in the industry and in my own body. When I started out I was 32 years old and not thinking about menopause. I consider myself lucky to be learning and implementing in my own body what we have learned from research over the last quarter century.
Strength training is a must in order to live a healthy, active life in our later years. I was listening to a podcast a few weeks ago titled Wiser Than Me with Julia-Louis Dreyfuss. Click Here to listen. In her podcast she interviews famous women who are older and wiser than she. A few of the famous women she interviewed talked about how enjoying older age came from preparing for older age. If you haven’t started lifting weights yet, now is the time. Part of preparing to enjoy our later years is keeping our body functioning at its best. Let’s take a look at the Pros and Cons of strength training in menopause and beyond.
The Pros Are
Strength training breaks down your muscle fibers and then during the rest and recovery the muscle fibers increase.
Prevents Osteoporosis and Sarcopenia
Muscles attach to bone via tendons. As muscles and tendons do their work, bone cells are stimulated, and more cells are produced.
Prevents Weight Gain
Building more muscle helps your metabolism run higher even at rest. When you strength train, you enjoy an elevated metabolism for up to 72 hours after exercise. Increasing your resting metabolic rate is key in losing excess fat.
Helps Balance Hormones
Strength training helps regulate estrogen and progesterone and the organs and glands such as your adrenals, liver, brain and ovaries that produce those hormones.
Improves Flexibility, Balance and Posture
Having more muscle fibers that are strong and working efficiently will keep you moving with better flexibility, balance and better posture.
Reduces Risk of Cardiovascular Disease, Obesity and Diabetes
Strength training can play a pivotal role in protecting against cardiovascular disease, a leading cause of death in menopausal women. Regular strength training can lead to lower blood pressure levels. It helps increase the flexibility of blood vessels, making it easier for blood to flow. Strength training has been shown to elevate HDL “good” cholesterol while lowering LDL “bad” cholesterol. Strength training has also been associated with lower levels of inflammatory markers in the body, therefore reducing the risk of cardiovascular problems.
Boosts Mood and Self Confidence
Strength training can trigger the release of endorphins, nature’s mood enhancing chemicals. Engaging in regular strength training helps reduce stress levels. Exercise in general, has been shown to lower the body's stress hormones such as cortisol, while promoting the production of stress-relieving neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. As you start to feel and see improvements in strength, muscle tone and overall fitness, you may feel enhanced self-esteem and confidence.
There really are no Cons to strength training after 50 but, there are some factors to keep in mind.
Women in menopause can be more susceptible to certain injuries due to changes in bone density and joint health. Using proper form is essential as well as starting with a weight appropriate for your fitness level.
In menopause as estrogen levels drop, cortisol levels naturally go up. In order to give ourselves enough recovery time and not stress ourselves out, giving your body 72 hours in between heavyweight days is important to build muscle. Example- I lift heavy on Mondays and Fridays and do Pilates and functional exercise on Wednesdays.
We are all bio individual. Work with a knowledgeable coach or trainer who can create a safe and effective strength training plan while taking your specific needs and concerns into account.
How to Get Started with Your Strength Training Program
If you’re new to strength training, you'll want to learn proper form and execution of movement. That's why working with a trainer knowledgeable in biomechanics is imperative.
When starting out you will work with a weight or resistance that is comfortable for you to complete 12-15 repetitions. After a few weeks of consistent strength training, you may notice you can lift heavier weight. Women in menopause will benefit more once they can lift heavy enough weight to fatigue at 10 repetitions. If you’ve been strength training and are ready to see greater results, it's important to pay attention to when you truly fatigue. If you can easily lift a weight for 12 or more repetitions, you’re ready to progress. Try increasing your weight little by little until you are fatigued at 10 repetitions. To learn more, click here to read my blog post Best Exercises for Women in Menopause.
It’s important to note that building muscle also requires rest for recovery, proper nutrition and hydration. Be sure to check out older blog posts at boundlessbalance.com to read about the other components to building muscle.
Contact me today at email@example.com to learn more about my 6 Pillars of Wellness One-on-One Online Coaching. My coaching is different from any other program out there. It is a holistic approach that takes into account all the aspects of your health and wellness to get you the results you’re looking for.