If you have weights collecting dust in your garage, might I suggest blowing off the dust bunnies and pumping iron. It’s well documented that strength and balance training are an important part of health and wellness. But have you ever thought about exactly WHY today is the best day to get started?
Outcomes Across the Lifespan
When I was growing up, it was nothing to go outside and play all day with friends. Riding bikes, climbing trees, jumping rope, playing tag, shooting hoops….all before lunch. I am so grateful for those activities and years of play because little did I know then I was building my bone and muscle mass reserve.
From 18-24, exercise and physical activity helps to maximize the gains in muscle and bone mass. The earlier we get ourselves on the right path to wellness and strength, the better we are going to be in the long run. According to the editors of Human Kinetics (2005), peak bone mineral density (BMD) occurs around age 25! Sitting for endless hours watching YouTube or Hulu or Disney + won’t get our BMD up to levels that in all honesty, we really need.
By the time we reach 40-50 years of age ladies, we aren’t necessarily building muscle and bone mass but rather our bodies are trying to maintain and slow the rate of decline. Thanks to changes in hormones associated with menopause, we tend to lose bone and muscle mass faster than men during the same age range. After age 40, that BMD starts declining up to 1% per year, even faster in the years following menopause. Can you see now why all that activity earlier in life is so important? Not only are we losing bone density, but we have a natural decline in muscle strength and muscle mass.
The good news? The rate of decline isn’t set in stone. Taking simple steps now has the potential for long-term positive health outcomes.
Where to Start
- Get moving: incorporate at least 2 days of strength building activity per week. According to a study by Nunes et al in 2016, after menopause we see high volume resistance training provide benefits in terms of strength, fat and lipid metabolism and decreased inflammation. Contrary to popular thought, lifting weights really is a good thing for us ladies.
- Practice functional activities for exercises: sit to stand without using our hands (basically a squat), going up and down steps with control (small lunges), hip hinges (like we are pulling up our britches), bridges (butt raises from a laying position).
- Put down the wine and the cigarettes. Aside from the obvious statement that smoking is bad for you, there really is no redeeming quality for it. Slower healing, reduced oxygenation, impaired breathing, elevated heart disease risk…need I go on. While a glass of wine here and there won’t likely hurt you, turning it into a daily habit may. Extra calories, expanding waistline, and altered cortisol levels will not do us any favors in the strength and conditioning department.
- Clean up your pantry and refrigerator. Stock up on vegetables, fruits, lean protein, and whole grains. Ditch the sugary, over-processed packaged items as much as possible.
The Nurtured Life Nugget? Time is of the essence so to speak, when it comes to building and maintaining our strength and bone mass. Those weights have collected dust long enough. Break them out and start adding to your muscle and bone bank!