A woman’s body goes through many changes as she grows older, and the body you have at 40 may be drastically different from the one you had at 20.
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Rather than ignore these changes, women over 40 can perform certain kinds of fitness routines and exercises — strength-training and lifting weights in particular — to stay in great shape, maintain bone density, increase muscle mass and reduce the effects of aging.
Indeed, the days of aerobics, sweating to the oldies and leotards are over, with more older women embracing strength-training as their means to stay fit. That being said, most women still don’t strength train properly, especially as they grow older. Here are some basic guidelines for women who are trying to stay fit and youthful with strength training.
Choose Form Over Speed
It is important for women over 40 to focus more on form than speed when strength training, as they benefit from a slow burn. They’re also far less likely to become injured with slow, deliberate movements. The body heals more slowly after 40 and the ligaments are more delicate, so take your time and focus on the correct range of motion above all else. Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to strength training.
Be Wary Of High-Impact Bootcamps
Strength training for women over 40 is very different from the typical workouts most youngsters follow. With age, our bodies are less able to hold up to the rigours of running and jumping, especially on the joints and bones. Bootcamps are highly competitive and tend to involve high-impact movements, resulting in sore knees, back pain and other strains. If you’re in relatively good shape with no joint problems, then by all means, go for the hardcore bootcamp — but if you suffer from bad knees, sore hips or other joint problems, you may want to try more isolated and gentle movements than a bootcamp would typically offer.
Benefits Of Strength Training
Physiologically, the benefits of consistent strength-training include an increase in muscle size and tone, improved muscle strength, and improvements in bone density. This is particularly important for older women, who are at an increased risk for osteoporosis and brittle bones.
Adding muscle can also give your metabolism a well-needed boost during the years when it tends to naturally slow down. Plus, lifting weights has also been shown to improve psychological health as well, by increasing self-esteem, confidence, and self-worth.
Besides increasing your endurance, power and strength, some studies suggest that strength-training can result in improved intellectual capacity and productivity, too. Physical exercise gets the blood flowing to your brain, which helps keep the mind sharp.
Finally, many older adults find they get less sleep and are more tired than their more youthful counterparts. Strength training workouts have been linked to better sleep and more restful nights — which we all know is great for looking and feeling young.
Don’t let age hold you back from pursuing your fitness goals, whatever they may be. If you’re a woman over 40 seeking an exercise routine, there’s no better way to reverse the aging process than with strength training. Pick up some weights and get to work!
Not sure where to begin? Read our strength-training guide for beginners — including the 6 best exercises to start doing right away — to help you get started.