Each of us has a different definition of fitness. But when it comes to the reason for joining a gym, most women would say that they want to lose weight, get into shape or balance their eating habits. A recent study (Gender Differences in Exercise Habits) reported that women mainly exercise for weight loss and toning.
As a result, they tend to join a regular gym. They can spend hours every day, doing Aerobics, working out on treadmills or with some other cardio equipment.
Time for Examination
Well, it’s good that women are thinking about fitness and health. Many believe cardio or aerobics is beneficial for losing weight. However, more recent studies have shown that cardiovascular training or aerobic exercise can contribute to muscle loss. Science now shows that it is vital for anybody to maintain lean muscle mass as they grow older. So the fat loss is more critical than weight loss as you will discover as you read on.
I am sure you agree with me if I say being healthy is more important than losing weight. Being a female puts you at risk of many health problems, especially if you are moving into your 30s and beyond. So, a proper workout regimen is critical to maintaining health, wellness, and physical appearance. This is where strength or weight training comes in.
Why Strength Training?
Strength Training involves weight-lifting exercises, designed to build muscle mass and stronger bones. These aren’t the only positives, research says that constant and intense weight training offers many other protective benefits for aging women. Let’s look at the other benefits.
Reduces Risk of Osteoporosis:
According to statistics of IOF (Source: International Osteoporosis Foundation), 200 million women are affected by Osteoporosis worldwide. Age-related changes, physical inactivity, and poor nutrition together can lead to loss of muscle/bone mass at the rate of about half a pound a year, after the age of 30.
Adding to these, women have smaller, thinner bones than men and Estrogen (a hormone that protects bones) declines as they reach menopause (Source: National Osteoporosis Foundation). The result? Bones become more fragile and subject to fractures, even with a little stress.
Strength training, also known as resistance training, is considered highly beneficial for maintaining musculoskeletal health, especially in middle-aged, postmenopausal, or older women. Studies have demonstrated that Resistance exercises stimulate Muscle Protein Synthesis (MPS) by activating a PI3K-Akt-mTORC1 signaling pathway. Resistance training applies a mechanical load on bones, which leads to an increase in bone strength (Source: Reference 1).
Another study also revealed that intensive resistance exercises compared to regular pharmacological and nutritional plan can enhance bone health, including improved strength and balance and increased muscle mass (Source: Reference 2).
Treats Low Back Pain (LBP):
Low back pain is a common health problem disturbing performance and well-being. LBP affects 1 in 5 Europeans (Source: European Chiropractors Union) and is seen more in women than men (Source: Reference 3).
A research study funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) demonstrated that free weight resistance training, focusing on strength, motor control, and physiological aspects are useful in patients with chronic Lower back pain (Source: Reference 4). Strength exercises are also helpful in reducing pain levels (Source: Reference 5).
Reduce Anxiety and Depression Symptoms:
Women are twice as likely to be affected by depression and anxiety than men, according to a new report by the National Women’s Council of Ireland.
Results from 33 randomized clinical trials involving 1877 participants revealed that Resistance training could drastically lower depression symptoms among adults irrespective of their health status (Source: Reference 6).
A 2017 analysis of 16 studies suggested that strength training can resist and improve anxiety symptoms significantly (Source: Reference 7).
Weight Training is no more just an option, it’s now a necessity of health and fitness for aging women. The list of benefits goes on. We will look at some more in our next blog.
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1. Effects of Resistance Exercise on Bone Health.A Ram Hong, Sang Wan Kim Endocrinol Metab (Seoul) 2018 Dec; 33(4): 435–444. Published online 2018 Nov 30. doi: 10.3803/EnM.2018.33.4.435 PMCID: PMC6279907
2. The effects of progressive resistance training on bone density: a review Layne JE, Nelson ME. Nutrition, Exercise Physiology and Sarcopenia Laboratory, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University, Boston, MA 02111, USA. PMID: 9927006
3. Increased low back pain prevalence in females than in males after menopause age: evidences based on synthetic literature review.Yì Xiáng J. Wáng, Jùn-Qīng Wáng, Zoltán Káplár. Quant Imaging Med Surg. 2016 Apr; 6(2): 199–206. doi: 10.21037/qims.2016.04.06. PMCID: PMC4858456
4. The effects of a free-weight-based resistance training intervention on pain, squat biomechanics and MRI-defined lumbar fat infiltration and functional cross-sectional area in those with chronic low back. https://bmjopensem.bmj.com/content/1/1/e000050
5. The effects of strength exercise and walking on lumbar function, pain level, and body composition in chronic back pain patients.Jung-Seok Lee, Suh-Jung Kang, J Exerc Rehabil. 2016 Oct; 12(5): 463–470. Published online 2016 Oct 31. doi: 10.12965 /jer.1632650.325. PMCID: PMC5091063
6. Association of Efficacy of Resistance Exercise Training With Depressive Symptoms: Meta-analysis and Meta-regression Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. PMCID: PMC6137526 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29800984.
7. The Effects of Resistance Exercise Training on Anxiety: A Meta-Analysis and Meta-Regression Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.Gordon, B.R., McDowell, C.P., Lyons, M. et al. Sports Med (2017) 47: 2521. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-017-0769-0