Any woman over 30 knows that as we age, it becomes progressively harder to lose unwanted fat. But getting older doesn’t just mean gaining fat; it also means losing muscle. Some studies suggest we lose as much as 3% to 5% per decade after the age of 30.
However, research also shows that weightlifting the best way for women to maintain their strength, protect bone health, and prevent weight gain.
About Muscle Mass Loss After 50
Muscle loss, also known as sarcopenia, is a common occurrence among older adults. In severe cases, sarcopenia can lead to extreme weakness, inability to live independently, and a shorter life expectancy.
As we age, our bodies begin to experience an imbalance in the growth hormones that trigger muscle growth, leading our bodies to break down those muscles over time. Certain lifestyle habits increase the risk of muscle mass loss:
- Immobility and a sedentary lifestyle
- Unbalanced diet
- Chronic inflammation
- Extreme stress
Weight Training Reduces Muscle Loss in Women Over 50
Medical experts say lifting weights is the single best way to preserve current muscles and continue to build new muscles as you age. Some women shy away from lifting weights because they don’t want to “bulk up” as they age, but in fact, weight training can help you stay trim as post-menopause fat starts to change our bodies.
While any amount of weightlifting will help, studies show that women get the best results when they lift 2-3 days per week. Women over 70 should maintain weight training practices at least three days per week to avoid muscle loss.
Weight training doesn’t just prevent sarcopenia. It can actually reverse the disease’s effects and help you create new muscle, keeping you healthier as you age.
Lifting Weights Protects Bone Health
In addition to keeping your muscles strong, lifting weights protects your bone health, too.
As we age and estrogen levels drop, our bones become weaker and more brittle. Nearly one in four women will develop osteoporosis, a potentially debilitating disease where bones become increasingly more fragile. Osteoporosis leaves women susceptible to bone breaks, which are unlikely to heal quickly as we age.
However, lifting weights can actually help reduce the effects of bone mineral loss. That’s because when we do weight-bearing exercise, our bodies adapt and build greater bone density. Therefore, weightlifting becomes increasingly vital as we age, not just to protect our muscles, but also to protect our bones.
Other Health Benefits of Weightlifting for Older Women
Besides keeping your muscles and bones strong, weightlifting has other health benefits, too.
One study found that regular weightlifting might minimize the risk and effects of Alzheimer’s. While the reason isn’t entirely understood, it could be that lifting weights increases blood flow to the brain, activates certain hormones, or improves brain signaling.
Weightlifting can also prevent spine diseases and spine curvatures. And a healthy back impacts various other components of our health as we age, from our ability to be physically active to our pain levels.
How to Incorporate Weightlifting Into Your Routine
If you’re over the age of 50, and you don’t have a weightlifting routine, don’t fret. There are simple moves you can incorporate into your daily routine to help you build muscle, fight unwanted fat, and keep your bones healthy for years to come.
You don’t need an expensive gym membership to establish a weightlifting routine. Using a few pieces of popular in-home equipment, you can start building and maintaining muscle strength right from your living room.
Even if you’ve never lifted a barbell in your life, you can start with some simple routines to maintain and increase muscle mass. Click here to see some simple moves you can do from the comfort of your own home.
Losing our strength doesn’t have to be inevitable as we age. Lifting weights can keep us strong – physically, mentally, and emotionally.