Why weight training is important for women.
Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior Guidelines recommend 2 or more days per week of total body resistance training that work the 11 major muscle groups alternating between the lower body (legs, hips, back, abdomen) and upper body (chest, shoulders, and arms) for all adults.
These recommendations include adults over 65 unless you have a chronic condition (heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes). In these cases, ask your doctor what types and amounts of activity are safe.
For postmenopausal women, researchers recommend doing resistance and weight bearing based workouts three days a week (on alternate days).
Women who don’t exercise can lose anywhere from 3 to 8% of their muscle mass each decade as a result of inactivity. During the first five years after menopause, the average woman loses up to 10 per cent of her total body bone mass. Studies show that doing strength training can prevent mineral loss in bones, reduce lower back pain, increase metabolism, promote healthy body composition and increase quality of life
We are all familiar with the fact that exercise increases the size, strength and capacity of our muscles. (Don’t forget- exercise must be regular and ongoing to have a proper benefit, it helps to think of exercise as management tool rather than a quick fix). Most of us have also heard that our bones become stronger when a certain amount of impact or extra strain is placed on them. This means there are specific types of exercises that are better for bone.
What types of exercise are important for improving bone strength?
- Weight bearing exercise (exercise done while on your feet so you bear your own weight). For example: brisk walking, jogging, skipping, basketball / netball, tennis, dancing, impact aerobics, stair walking
- Progressive resistance training (becomes more challenging over time). For example: lifting weights – hand / ankle weights or gym equipment
- Exercise routines should be varied (variety in routines is better than repetition)
- Exercise should be performed in short, intensive bursts
- Exercise must be regular (at least 3 times per week)
The ability of an exercise to build bone (osteogenic capacity) depends on the specific way that stress is applied to the bone during the exercise.
Watch this video for more information on osteogenic capacity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78RBpWSOl08
We may not be accustomed to thinking of bones as living tissue, but that is exactly what they are. Like all other cells, the body is constantly renewing bone cells – the full process of replacing skeletal cells takes 10 years. This is why our physical choices do have a very real influence on our body and our health. Weight-bearing physical activity causes new bone tissue to form, and this makes bones stronger. Bones and muscles both become stronger when muscles push and tug against bones during physical activity.
After a mechanical load, such as the extra weight applied when performing the squat exercise or when running, has been applied to the bone, bone cells migrate to the stressed area, and begin the process of laying down new bone. The bone cells manufacture and secrete proteins, mainly collagen, which is deposited in between the bone cells to increase bone strength in that area. These proteins eventually mineralize, giving bone its characteristic rigidity.
Because bone grows after experiencing a stress, there needs to be a threshold level that determines what signifies a significant amount of stress to promote growth. This threshold level is termed the minimal essential strain, and it is determined by the level of activity you do on a daily basis. If a force falls below this level, it does not stimulate growth. If a force reaches or exceeds the level, such as when performing a weight-bearing resistance or aerobic exercise, bone cells are stimulated to produce collagen, beginning the process of bone formation.
Watch this video for more information on how resistance training assists in bone health: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQ0Nf9Uap_s
Starting a Program for Bone Health Fitness.
Working with your Exercise Physiology team is a great way to get started on resistance training if you are feeling overwhelmed, nervous or unsafe about working with weights.
An effective exercise program for bone health may include 30 minutes of weightbearing activity, 4 or more days a week. To help you stay motivated, your Exercise Physiologist will help you choose an activity that you enjoy. There are a wide range of activities that will get you on your feet and moving. Your 30 minutes of exercise can be done all in one stretch or broken up into shorter intervals. A 10-minute brisk walk three times a day is a great way to get started.
A general guideline for strength training is to exercise each major muscle group at least twice a week. Be sure to rest for a full day in between strength sessions.
To really reap the benefits of exercise, you need to add flexibility and balance training to the mix. All exercise sessions should end with stretching — and not just for the mental relaxation benefits. Increasing your flexibility improves your ability to move easily and can reduce your risk for injury. Your Exercise Physiology team will teach you how to do this safely.
If this sounds like something you would be interested in, call the office today on 8331 1557 and make an appointment to see Aidan or Raegan from our Exercise Physiology team. They will be able to talk to you about how to get started and support you through the changes you will need to make. *PHI rebates apply
Increasing muscle mass also boosts your resting metabolism. This means you burn more kilojoules (energy) throughout the day, even when you’re not physically active, which can help with achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Take a look at our Weight Management program here.
Added benefit 2:
Increases in your lean muscle mass and metabolism through muscle strengthening activities can have important benefits for people with type 2 diabetes or people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes Australia explains that a higher metabolism, due to increased lean muscle mass, helps your body keep blood glucose levels in check, while a lower fat-to-muscle ratio reduces the amount of insulin you need in your body. Take a look at our Diabetes Management program here.