The last 12 months have brought a lot of change to our everyday lives and our exercise regimes have been no exception. Gyms may be closed and fitness classes cancelled but our workouts are by no means redundant. Now more than ever, our health and wellbeing is taking precedent as we aim to keep active and improve our mental health, with over 45% of people keeping active at home since the pandemic began, a recent study revealed.
But as we up our daily walks and inflate our bike tyres, there's one element of exercise that we shouldn't overlook – weight training. Often associated with dumbbell-wielding youths and intimidating body builders, lifting weights is slowly shaking off its stigma to reveal a plethora of health benefits at every age, especially for women over 30. Why? Because the average person loses 1% of muscle mass each year after the age of 30 and with over 600 muscles in the body, letting them fall by the wayside can impact your mobility, strength, energy levels, immune system and even organ function.
You don’t need to hit the gym and start using huge weights; a few sets of dumbbells of differing weights (for working different muscles in the body), a yoga mat and some YouTube workout routines is all you need to get started at home.
Not convinced? We've outlined some of the main benefits of weight training over the age of 30:
It strengthens bones
While there's no doubt that pumping iron builds muscle, aids weight loss (as muscle burns fat) and carves a more toned physique, its effects are also felt on the inside as well as the outside. Not only does muscle mass decrease as we age, our bone density does also, especially in women who have smaller bones to begin with. But, by lifting weights up to three times a week, it puts a certain amount of stress on bones, increasing their density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
It speeds up metabolism
While maintaining a healthy diet alongside training will give you optimum results with maintaining a healthy weight, pumping iron will speed up your metabolism, which will in turn burn fat, give you more energy and improve sleep.
It gives you more energy
It may sound contradictory – wearing yourself out and feeling more energised – but that's exactly what weight training does, as it releases endorphins (feel good hormones) and boosts the number of proteins that take glucose out of the blood, transporting it into the skeletal muscle, giving the muscles more energy and improving your mood.
It will enable you to burn calories long after you've finished
We know, it sounds too good to be true but after you've put that kettlebell down, your body will continue to torch calories in a process called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption.
It will lower health risks
While we know exercise results in a healthier body, lifting weights specifically has been proven to lower blood pressure, resting heart rate, insulin sensitivity and triglycerides – all of which would otherwise contribute to diabetes, heart attack, and obesity in women over the age of 40.
It helps to balance hormones
From contraception to childbirth to perimenopause and menopause, there's a lot of hormone action happening over the age of 30. As oestrogen levels drop with age, balancing hormone levels is key for a good quality of life. You can help boost your oestrogen levels through exercise that increases lean muscle mass, plus raising your heart rate for at least half an hour a day can also help boost oestrogen levels, so the effect is two-fold.
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