Stay Strong

Weight train­ing is a wo­man’s BFF, of­fer­ing ben­e­fits way be­yond mus­cle tone

Amazing Wellness - - CONTENTS - By Vera Tweed

Dis­cover the many ben­e­fits of weight train­ing for women.

Want to look great in your fa­vorite out­fits, feel strong and con­fi­dent, and stay that way for the rest of your life? En­ter weight train­ing. Done the right way, it’s the prover­bial magic bul­let—well, al­most. It takes a bit of ef­fort, but likely a lot less than you think, and the re­wards are worth it.

Healthy mus­cles hold the key. They nat­u­rally grow and get stronger un­til about age 30, then grad­u­ally start to dis­ap­pear (“at­ro­phy” is the med­i­cal term) at the rate of around 3–5 per­cent per decade among in­ac­tive peo­ple. Although this holds true for men as well, women, being ge­net­i­cally less mus­cu­lar to be­gin with, face a big­ger risk.

HEALTH RISKS OF MUS­CLE LOSS

Loss of mus­cle leads to sags, curves in the wrong places, a slowed me­tab­o­lism, and fat gain, and in­creases risks for os­teo­poro­sis, di­a­betes, and frailty—the stereotypical lit­tle old lady who shuf­fles along at a snail’s pace. While she might be a funny char­ac­ter in a com­edy skit, in real life, she’s headed for a nurs­ing home.

Weight-loss di­ets pose ex­tra risks, as with­out weight train­ing, up to half the weight lost may be mus­cle. This, in turn, slows down meta­bolic rate and con­trib­utes to re­gain of fat (but not mus­cle).

The good news is, weight train­ing at any time of life will re­verse at least some age-re­lated mus­cle loss, in­crease lean mus­cle tis­sue, and im­prove con­fi­dence and ap­pear­ance. Stud­ies of women in their 90s show dra­matic im­prove­ments in strength and abil­ity to func­tion in­de­pen­dently in just a few weeks.

A COM­MON MYTH

“Women tend to fear bulk­ing up,” says fit­ness trainer Brad Schoen­feld, PhD, author of Strong & Sculpted and a lead­ing ex­pert on mus­cle-build­ing science. But it’s a myth that weight train­ing will build big mus­cles. “Women just gen­er­ally don’t have the ca­pac­ity to bulk up be­cause

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