Along with including adequate calcium in your diet, weight training is the single most important thing you can do to keep your bones and muscles healthy and in good shape as you age. Women in general tend to shy away from lifting weights. Women are more inclined to doing cardiovascular exercises such as aerobics, running, biking, etc. and generally forgo the weights altogether.
There is a general perception that weight lifting will make women bulky and big just like the bodybuilders that they see on television. This is far from the truth. Women (unless they are taking steroids or drugs) will not bulk up in such a way for the simple reason that they do not have the hormones required to develop such muscles. However, with proper fitness coaching and a nutritious diet, women can develop a toned, strong, healthy and more attractive physique.
Weight training builds muscle which is a very efficient calorie burning tissue. While fat just sits in your body, muscle tissue is active and burns calories all day long, even when you are inactive. This is very important for those trying to lose weight as it expedites the overall calorie burning process along with increasing the body’s metabolic rate. Therefore, by adding strength training to a cardiovascular workout, more calories are burned overall.
Weight training will also make women stronger. If muscles are not exercised consistently, muscular strength is lost over a period of years as we age (gracefully). Weight training gives us the overall strength to complete our daily tasks (picking up a grocery bag, carrying or lifting something, squatting to pick up keys, walking up a flight of stairs, etc.) with ease. Strong muscles can handle these tasks with ease and efficiency, well into old age which will definitely impact positively on the overall quality of life.
Furthermore, women are at high risk of developing heart disease (especially Asian Indian women, due to an improper diet and a sedentary lifestyle). Recent studies show that women who carry fat around their midriffs have a higher risk of developing heart disease than women who carry weight in other places. Weight training not only accelerates the overall fat burning process; it also lowers cholesterol and improves blood pressure.
Weight training also reduces the risk of diabetes because of increased glucose utilization. Weight training can decrease the pain of arthritis and osteoarthritis and can strengthen bones and joints while reducing the chances of developing osteoporosis. When weight training is done correctly and on a regular basis, bone mass becomes denser and stronger, thereby, significantly lowering the risk of fractures in old age.
Weight training has also been found to combat the symptoms of menopause. Studies have also shown weight training to alleviate depression and improve mood. An added bonus is that skin looks firmer and more youthful as muscular definition starts taking place, thus reversing the aging process. Ladies, I think we have just discovered…the fountain of youth!