There are so many more than 5 benefits of strength training. But If you just even need a reminder today, you need to stick your toe in the water, or you need to be reminded that cardio does NONE of these either at all or as effectively…here you go.
5 Benefits of Strength Training After 50:
Accelerated Fat Loss (belly fat) Improved Bone Health Mitochondrial Health Brain & Mood Health Reverse Aging Effects on DNA Fat Loss
Want insurance you won’t gain weight, total fat, and belly fat with age? Strength training. Following post menopausal women for 6 years, those that had the greatest consistency with strength training (more details below) maintained weight, total and regional (belly) fat.
Those with no resistance training gained significant weight, total and trunk fat over 6 years post menopause.
For menopausal women the best ways to combat belly fat (in addition to attention to WHAT and WHEN you’re eating) is a weekly workout schedule that includes strength training and interval training. Strength train to muscle fatigue in each set. Reach breathlessness in your interval training. Volume for strength training should come from the sets and repetitions not from the frequency of lifting. (Increased lifting frequency reduces the recovery time and tends to decrease overall intensity. Split routines get 8x fewer results than a total body workout).
Increasing bone density post menopause was once thought not possible. In part, however, this may have been due to the very conservative nature of the strength training performed. At best, bone losses were slowed or halted, and even then did create positive change. Imagine, losing 1-2% bone density a year, and then not losing any. That is significant change.
Now, more recent studies that combine dietary changes with adequate weight training stimulus have been proven to increase bone density in post menopausal women.
The gap in research is clear, though. Some protocols DO NOT WORK to increase or positively protect bone health. Work with an expert in osteoporosis, a Medical Exercise Specialist, and someone who has done the research, is willing to show it to you (as in a list of references and multiple citings).
Those powerhouses of energy production, called mitochondria slow in production as a natural part of aging. That is important for many tissues in the body and body function, not just muscle. However, mitochondrial aging can be reversed and or prevented with proper intensity exercise. Both high load and low load resistance training done to muscular fatigue are beneficial for mitochondria health.
Again, the solution is not a mild walk every day, but some vigorous and intense exercise, consisting of both resistance training and exercise to breathlessness.
Brain & Mood Health
Exercise has long been a mood booster for many. It’s also supportive of decreasing signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as increasing function of the hippocampus (aka, memory central). Resistance training along with cardiovascular training helps problem solving skills and creativity as well.
Antiaging Effects on DNA
Just twice weekly strength training for 6 months positively influences the expression of 179 genes associated in aging. As a woman in the second half of life, you want to be all over that. I’ve shared this research many times. It’s one of my absolute favorite studies to quote. Shout it from the mountain tops! What are you doing that you couldn’t do twice weekly strength training workouts?
This phenomenon of reversing aging is also closely related to improvements in mitochondria function with aging.
What is “Strength Training?”
Falling under that large umbrella of resistance training, strength training and weight training specifically refer to use of weights as additional load.
Body weight training, tubing and bands, even use of water exercise are other ways to use resistance. The key is finding a way to strength train that enables you to safely do more pulling exercises than pushing exercises and harness the metabolism boosting value of reaching fatigue with the major muscles of the lower body. Strength training after 50 comes with dual goals of getting benefits while reducing risks.
Compare, say a Pilates session with a session using dumbbells that result in muscular fatigue in each set. The muscle strength, bone health, metabolism benefits of the strength training surpass that of Pilates exercise.
Where to begin?
Start strength training after 50 with a solid foundation of basic movements (push, pull, squat and hinge exercises). Use slightly higher in repetitions (15-20 or even up to 25 repetitions depending on your condition). You can use dumbbells at home, or at the gym. You can use machine weights. You will need a bar or equipment of some kind to do pulling or hinging movement against resistance. I prefer use of…