Strength training for anti-aging

At age no bar, we strongly believe that aging cannot be avoided but you can follow healthy lifestyle to age well and gracefully. Staying active and eating clean becomes more important than ever in midlife. It gives you strength to sail through the bumpy midlife and prepares you for happier old age ahead. Exercise comes in many forms. Some might add brisk walking; some might join yoga class nearby and some might try those dance workouts which are super fun. Any exercise that is done correctly is good
for you, but strength training is really where the anti-aging magic happens. Strength training is a method of conditioning muscle with the help of resistive loads. This load can be weights like dumbbells, barbells and kettlebells or using resistance bands or even your own body weight. Strength training makes you stronger by building more muscle tissue, improving muscular
coordination and improves rate of force production. While doing this it engages the cardiovascular system for increased overall blood circulation.

Top benefits of strength training

1. Better appearance – Strength training works wonders on women by toning muscles. This helps to get rid of flappy fats improving your figure.
2. Faster weight loss – Muscles need energy to do work, for which they consume calories. With strength training we build more muscle hence increase energy consumption, effectively increasing BMR. Increased metabolic rate makes it easier to lose weight.
3. Feel Stronger – Muscles along with bones help you to perform work like pull, push, lift, press etc. Strength training increases strength due to developed and more powerful muscles.
4. Decrease Risk of osteoporosis – Bone has an incredible ability to rebuild itself. When bone is subjected to load in strength training, it increases the bone density making the bones stronger.
5. Improves balance – As a result of better inter muscle coordination, regular strength training helps to improve overall body balance.
6. Improves Posture –As we age, shoulders start drooping and body starts to bend forward. This disturbs the ideal posture. A good posture not only makes you look confident and gives better self-esteem, it also improves all body functions. Well-developed and toned muscles help you to stand erect improving posture.
7. Reduce Back Pain – If you have weaker under developed back and abdominal muscles, you could be more prone to back strain specially as you grow old. Strength training helps to build muscles in back as well as abs and reduces chances of back pain.
8. Improves aerobic capacity – According to study short-term resistance training in elderly not only improves muscular strength, but results in robust increases in several parameters related to muscle aerobic capacity. (ws1)
9. Lowers risk of injury – Resistance training applies dynamic load on the joints creating physiological changes in not just muscle but also tendons and ligaments. These changes strengthen muscle and tendons increasing the flexibility of the ligaments, decreasing that risk of injuries like strain or ligament tear.

10. Feel Better – Along with more energy and confidence strength training is known to reduce stress and anxiety, and a improve overall mood. It has been observed in a study that resistance training has positive effects on the executive cognitive ability and global cognitive function among the elderly. (ws2)

Despite knowing all the benefits of strength training most of the gyms it’s a common scene where older women keep 10 feet distance from weights and prefer to go for only low impact cardio. In fact, mid-age demands strength training for better strength for old age. If no effort is taken, one can lose as much as 3% to 5% of the body muscle mass each decade after age 30. More muscle you lose more strain you will be putting on your joints and bones. In case of women even bone density reduces as they approach their menopause. Strength workout will not just build and maintain the muscles but also help bones and
joints to be healthy.

Types of Strength Training

1. Free weights – Dumbbells, Barbells, Kettlebells are most common strength training tools. These are commonly available in variety of sizes and relatively easy to use. Medicine balls and sand bags are also good option to regular dumbbells

2. Gym machines – Machines have adjustable seats and weights for variable load. These machine work on specific muscles by isolating them from rest. They can be specifically useful if you have noticeable muscle imbalances, as you can focus on under developed muscle only.

3. Resistance bands – These are rubber bands which provide resistance when you try to stretch them. They are easy to carry and can be used in variety of workouts. The bands provide safer load as it is directly controllable by you. Bands can also be used together with light weights for making them more effective. They are available in variety of thickness and sizes.

4. Body weight – You don’t have to go to gym or buy expensive equipment to get benefits of strength training. Bodyweight exercises which use your own body as resistance can be  extremely effective and convenient. It is easy to modify most of the body weight moves to suit your level; hence they are suitable to everyone. The chance of injury is also very less as there is
no external load to control.

Strength training tips for Mid-lifers

So maybe you never went to gym before, or you only used treadmills or outdoor walks as workouts. You are not alone here. Many women don’t get enough time or motivation to take their muscles seriously. Many have misconception that they will either look manly if they start lifting weight or are just scared to lift. Weights might look little scary at first if you have never been friendly with them before, but its never too late to include them in your workouts. Just respect your body and follow some basic rules.

1. Breathe – Holding breath might hinder the supply of oxygen to the muscles which are working hard during strength training. Ideally exhale through nose or mouth when you are applying force like lifting the weight and inhale when you relax or release the weight or load.
2. Correct weight – Choose optimal weight. Specially at the starting point lift which is comfortable to you. A thumb rule of comfortable lift is weight that you can lift for 15 repetitions. Gradually increase this weight as you get stronger. Avoid adventures of trying very heavy weights for fun or challenge.
3. Correct form – Form is most important thing in any workout. With weights it becomes even more important as it can put the load on wrong places, specially joints and injure you. If you are new to strength training, its highly advised to check every exercise with a personal trainer. Same applies to the machines in the gym. Understand their use, correct way of using them and then proceed.
4. Warm up & Stretching – Warm up before and stretching after workout is not skippable. Warm-up prepares your body by opening up joints and increasing blood supply by raising your heartrate. Stretching on the other hand allows a smooth return to lower heart rate, and is very important to avoid injuries.

5. Correct gear – Wear proper clothes and shoes to avoid slipping accidents. If your palms are sensitive, invest in good gloves to reduce friction with bars or dumbbells.

6. Stay Hydrated – Water is very important for multiple reasons. We lose water due to sweating during workout and it needs to be replenished. Water regulates your body temperature avoiding overheating which can cause headaches for some. It lubricates your joints reducing chance of injuries.

7. Consistency – Train at least 2 to 3 times a week. Avoid breaks of more than 15 days as you will start losing muscles you built if you don’t train them regularly.

8. Recovery – Allow recovery of your muscles by taking rest. Unlike cardio or yoga, strength training should not be done every day, unless you are alternating muscle groups. So, you can for example work on lower body on Monday / Thursday, on upper body on Tuesday/ Friday and take rest from strength on Wednesday. Remember, rest is as important as the training for
healthy muscles.

9. Respect your body – Challenging does not mean torture. Listen to your body, pay attention to pain especially if there is sharp pain and stop or slow down if required.

Expert talk

1. What is considered as strength training?
2. Is it possible to lose weight by strength training?
3. What are other benefits of strength workouts for women?
4. Do women look manly when they lift weight?
5. Is it recommended / safe to start strength training at an age of 40 – 45? Any specific things to remember?
6. Which type is best type of strength workout? (Free weights, Gym machines, Resistance bands, Body weight)
7. Tips

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