This is the year to get in shape and slow down the aging process! Now is the time to sculpt the contours of your body and strengthen the bones within. Strength training builds lean body mass, boosts your metabolism and energy levels, and makes you resistant to the slow down that occurs with age.
It’s no secret that strength training promotes good health and defends against the aging process. According to a study conducted by Dr. Miriam Nelson, a forerunner in researching the benefits of strength training for the over-40 population, “After one year of strength training, women’s bodies were 15 to 20 years more youthful.’
And there’s no reason to wait until you’re 40. A well-designed exercise program that includes weight training will impact your weight, health, fitness and well-being for decades to come. Let’s take a look at how lifting weights can have a positive effect at each decade of a woman’s lifespan.
At 20: A 20-year-old woman who does not lift weights will lose about 6 pounds of muscle and gain 5 pounds of fat by age 50. Subtle changes begin to occur in your body composition, that are not reflected on the bathroom scale. Even though you maintain your weight perfectly over time, if you do not lift weights your lean body mass begins to decline and your body fat increases. Without muscle tone, you are at risk of becoming “skinny fat.”
At 30: Strengthening the muscles benefits the bones as well. By age 30 you’ve achieved your peak bone mass, the most bone density you’ll have in your lifetime. Exercise has a dramatic effect on the growing skeleton, which is why it is essential for children and adolescents to be physically active. Once the skeleton stops growing, the effect of exercise on the bone is more modest. If you do not develop adequate bone-mineral density at an early age, your risk of osteoporosis increases later in life.
At 40: Turning forty is a wake up call! Beginning around this age many women begin to notice changes in their bodies that sound the alarm. You may be perplexed by creeping weight gain and stubborn belly fat. At about age 40, most women start to lose bone and muscle mass causing a decrease in metabolism of about 3% every decade. Strength training keeps you lean by building muscles. Lean body mass has a higher resting metabolic rate than fat, burning more calories as you breathe, digest food, even as you sleep.
At 50: The average weight gain during perimenopause is 10 pounds. Hormonal changes cause some loss of muscle with accompanying weight gain, but you can keep this to a minimum with weight training. Exercise may be the most important factor in keeping weight off once you’ve lost it. In one recent study, women who lost weight and exercised (either on a walking program or on a weight-training regimen) regained less weight than those who didn’t, and, even more striking, did not regain weight around their mid-section.
Research shows that much of what we consider about the aging process – the loss of strength, stamina, bone density, balance and flexibility – is actually due to inactivity. A program of regular, moderate physical activity that includes strength training will help you look and feel younger.
Joan Pagano, former trainer to Jacqueline Onassis and Caroline Kennedy, has specialized in strength training for women since 1988. She is the author of five best-selling exercise books, including Strength Training for Women. For more about Joan, her books and services, please visit www.joanpaganofitness.com.
(c) Copyright – Joan L. Pagano. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.