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​Work can keep anyone from exercising but this is especially so for women. A study by Australian National University has shown that most women only have time for their family and job, leaving no time for their physical well-being. Only 22.6% to 28.6% of women in heterosexual relationships are able to keep the habit of exercising regularly, especially women’s strength training. This is because women often have rigid work timetables resulting in a mainly sedentary or inactive lifestyle that may pose health risks—muscles thin out, metabolism slows down.

But don’t blame yourself and don’t lose hope. Contrary to popular belief, women in their 30s to 50s can still work out to slow down signs of ageing. Even better, you don’t need to start clocking long hours at the gym to see positive changes in your body, and this article explains just how strength training can help you with that.

Why strength training is important

Strength training is an effective solution because it directly deals with why you lose muscle mass in the first place. When you don’t use your muscles, it results in atrophy or the thinning of muscles. And this sustained muscle disuse leads to sarcopenia—permanent muscle cell loss.

Losing 1% to 2% of your muscle mass every year in your mid-30s is also a natural part of ageing. What strength training can do is delay this effect or remedy the consequences of inactivity by overusing your muscles until they’re at 80% of their capacity. The science behind strength training and muscles puts substance behind the quote ‘No pain, no gain’. For muscles to get stronger, they first have to break.

Additionally, strength training can help manage weight. With gradual muscle loss, your body’s ability to burn calories at rest declines. Although muscle growth does not exponentially increase your metabolic rate, strength training programmes like weightlifting cause your body to burn more calories than usual for at least a few hours after working out. After an intense weight lifting session, your body will consume excessive amounts of oxygen—Excess Post-Exercise Consumption—to repair your body, consuming a lot of energy (calories along the way). Strength training works best with a healthy diet to significantly burn fat, but this alongside its muscle-building effects makes it an extremely beneficial fitness programme.

How to get started on strength training

There are tons of strength training exercises that accommodate different preferences. One is yoga. This is because certain poses in yoga such as Warrior II and the Chair pose, stress particular muscle groups with your body weight, building some strength into them. Due to the low-impact nature of the exercise, yoga is also the ideal strength training method, for beginners and older individuals.

But for those who want to up the intensity of their workout routine, weightlifting is also an option. Whereas yoga uses body weight for resistance, weightlifting programmes use weights and gym equipment to strengthen different muscle groups. Workouts like leg presses—where the pressure is mainly on your lower body and your core—are an ideal starting point for lower body workouts. When it comes to your upper body, workouts are more specific. For example, bent-over dumbbell flys target your posterior deltoids while hammer curls are for biceps and weighted chair dips build strength in your triceps.

If yoga and weight training are not for you, you may opt for non-weighted workouts instead. These usually rely on your body weight or resistance bands to yield optimal results for your muscles.

There’s nothing wrong with asking for additional help

Finally, there is nothing wrong with asking for additional help. Seeing a professional Physiotherapist, Exercise Physiologist or Osteopath who specialize in exercise prescription is a great way to get you started on the right track and the right direction. It is their job to ensure you can exercise safely and in the correct way to get the most benefit from your program.

A good professional program should start with a thorough assessment, that would highlight your strengths, weaknesses and specific needs. Then, your program should be slowly introduced to you so that you gain the most benefit from the program, understanding technique, when to progress the program and how to work at the most appropriate intensity and volume.

Often this is the professional push you need to get on the right track from the start before taking over your own independent program in the long term.

Starting a regimen in your 30s to 50s is never too late, especially since different workout programmes suit different lifestyles. So, while exercising can be such a challenge to commit to, consider it as a commitment to yourself—giving yourself a healthier lifestyle that you weren’t able to have in all those years spent working.

Guest Writer for MD Health – Rheana Jalynn

 

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