Our bone density starts to decline from the age of 30. As estrogen falls in women during peri and post menopause, this causes a further decrease in bone density. Without adequate load and challenge to our tissues and bones we then put ourselves at serious risk of injury and illness as we age. Research suggests that in Australia, approx 50% of women over 60 years, will have at least one fracture due to low bone density and osteoporosis.
Muscle mass also declines by 1% per year from the age of 30, and this decline accelerates after 40. Without resistance training, our body is likely to suffer from sarcopenia or muscle wasting, a chronic disease of the elderly that causes loss of muscle mobility and function. It is estimated that without any resistance training, by the age of 70, over half of our muscle mass is lost. This loss of strength and mobility increases our risk of falls and injuries and can have a huge impact on our quality of life.
The key to maintaining an independent, healthy active life is resistance training…..this means lifting heavy weights! With more muscle mass, our bones and joints are protected, and our metabolism is more easily maintained.
There are many myths around strength training for women especially with regard to what is beneficial and appropriate. We need to dispel these myths to protect our health:
- Strength training will not make you bulky (we do not have the necessary hormones for it).
- Light reps of little weights beyond rehab is not enough stimulus for the body to build and muscle mass and maintain bone density
- For muscles to grow we need to stress the system – aka lift heavy and then rest and recover from the stimulus.
- It is not true that women need to do hours of cardio to lose weight – it is our lean muscle mass that has more of an impact on our metabolism than our exercise levels.
- You are never too old, it is never too late – even if you don’t know where to start.