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World Menopause Day: Why Strength Training Is So Important For Women



Many women will realise that the activity they did in the past no longer has the same positive effects on the body as they go through the menopause transition. Or they find that continuing to do very little when it comes to fitness, is resulting in increasing unwanted changes in physique and mental health.


This can be an extremely difficult time for women and last many years. Conversely, others may breeze through with minimal disruption to the everyday. Either way, age-related changes occur so keeping muscles and bones strong is key to healthy ageing.


Why is strength training so important as we age:

For any individual, strength training is important as we age. Use it or lose it is real and I see too many people where career and lifestyle leave them stiff, lacking in basic mobility and have posture that needs correction.


However for women, it’s even more important to take action as unfortunately, our hormones do not work in our favour as we go through the menopause transition. Women are at higher risk of injury and quicker decline of physical ability.


Estrogen:

Estrogen is an anabolic, meaning it helps us to build muscle. Hormones such as Estrogen decline and flatline as we go through the menopause transition, so we then need to create an alternative strong stimulus (signalling from mind to muscle) to replace the job that estrogen used to do in order to continue to build and maintain muscle mass, stay able and avoid frailty in later years.


How can we create a new strong stimulus to build muscle?


Strength training and ‘heavy’ lifting!

When starting out (or re-starting), bodyweight exercises are sufficient to create the strong stimulus needed to promote muscle gain and prevent loss.


‘Heavy’ is relevant to you.

What feels heavy to one individual can be very different to another. Don’t worry about what anyone else can do, the focus is on what works for you and your level now.


Weight loss:

And if you really want to lose weight, heavy strength training is the one!


- We start losing muscle mass and bone density from around the age of 30

- We lose 3-8% body muscle per decade as we age.

- Muscle strength improves metabolism



Bone density:

As muscles pull on bones when doing strength training movements, it prevents weakening that in the worst case can lead to osteopenia or osteoporosis.






Hop, skip & Jump!


Weight-bearing activity and jump training (plyometrics):

We know that weight-bearing activity helps keep our bones strong, however we need multi-directional strength for this to be really beneficial.


Is running enough to prevent loss of bone?

Well, if you are new to it then it will provide some stability however multidirectional strength and maximal force jump training (plyometrics) are needed to do the job and we should be working up to 3 x 10 minutes per week of jumping....Where is that skipping rope?


Gaining stubborn belly fat? HIIT: High intensity interval training can help shift it.


Short, high intensity movements are the stimulant to use a lot of carbohydrate and glucose in your blood. The response is to fill the muscle and the liver back up with carbohydrate and the result, use more free fatty acids at rest. Therefore when you hear that HITT burns fat post-workout, this is what we mean. All good things come to those who (work hard &) rest!


Just starting out?

If being active is something you’ve had a long break from, careful consideration to the learning process should be taken when building up to these key things safely while also taking a look at the bigger picture i.e. how does your pelvic floor cope with jumping?


As your coach I ensure that we go right back to basics, firstly to regain mobility, then progress through bodyweight exercises before starting to think about ‘heavy lifting’.



What you can expect from working with your coach:

Assessment of lifestyle, demands and ‘chief complaints’

Ways to improve posture and mobility

Strength training

Plyometrics (jump/impact training)

High intensity interval training (HIIT)

Improvements in balance

Eliminating the ‘grey zone’: working at the correct intensities for results without having to dedicate hours to activity.

The importance of rest and relaxation

Challenges & fun!







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