Exercise and movement have always been a big part of my life, but “I don’t want to bulk up” were the exact words I would think anytime someone suggested I add weights to my routine. I am a petite 5’2” and I thought lifting weights would make me look bulky. I also thought I wouldn’t be able to lift heavy weights because I didn’t have the arm strength, which doesn’t make sense if you think about it. The point of strength training is to build up to heavier weights over time.
It turns out I am not alone as many women avoid weight training and stick with cardio or more flexibility workouts such as yoga or Pilates, which is exactly what I did. As my exercise has evolved though, I’m beginning to embrace strength training. It all started back in the spring when I completed a lifting program. The next program I tried also had a weights component just not every day. And that’s when I fell in love! I like to craft my own workout routine rather than follow a program so now I’m adding in weights twice a week, one for upper body and then a leg day.
Now that I’m in my 40’s, I see the importance of strength training, especially for those of us in perimenopause. Here are a few reasons why you should embrace strength training in your life.
Increases bone density
As we age our bone density begins to decline and weight bearing exercise puts just enough stress on the bones causing them to strengthen. This can prevent osteoporosis, which is a major concern for women as we get older. It also protects our joint health so that we are more mobile and prevent injuries such as a fall or a broken hip. I know I plan to keep my dancing shoes handy for as long as I can, so I need my bones to be strong.
Tone up and maintain muscle mass
The more you lift weights, you will notice that your muscle tone will become tighter, and you’ll see a little muscle definition. Now this doesn’t mean you will look “bulky,” it just increases your muscle mass and improves your body composition. This also prevents injury and helps with everyday activities such as walking up the stairs.
Better overall strength and improved abilities
Women do a lot during the day and need their strength to work all day at the office, carry young children, cook, clean, maintain the house, and all the other tasks we take on. Resistance training improves your strength in areas such as your core, lower back, legs, and upper body. You will also be able to run farther and faster should you need to. Lifting regularly makes you feel stronger over time and like the true badass that you are.
Strength training has a quicker return on investment as you see results faster than you do with cardio. As you start to feel stronger, your confidence will grow because you will learn to love your body for how it performs and not just the way it looks. You will feel pride in your speed and the increased weight you are able to lift. I know I was very excited the day I ordered a heavier set of weights for leg day.
Lowers stress levels, improves heart health, & increases energy
We know that all exercise is beneficial in helping to decrease stress and anxiety along with improving our heart health. Strength training falls in there as well. It can be done in 30 minutes, twice a week and give you a boost of energy throughout the day while improving your overall mood and mental health.
Ladies, now it’s time for you to pick up those weights. Start slowly with two days a week, alternating different body parts to focus on and be sure to get the appropriate weight to start. You will not want to continue if you pull a muscle your first time out. Expect some soreness for the first few sessions but know you are on the right track to improving your overall health and cultivating your own wellness lifestyle.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As a writer, speaker, educator and coach my goal is to help guide people on their own journey to making a wellness lifestyle work for them.
My holistic approach teaches that it’s not just about the nutrition we put into our bodies or our fitness routine, we also need to take care of our own well-being as well.In order to truly live a healthier life we need to realize this is a shift and change in our whole lifestyle and we must cultivate this lifestyle every day.
I’m a certified health coach with a Master’s degree in Health Promotion with a concentration in Community Education.
This degree prepared me to become a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES). All of this knowledge is helping me create health education programs for children and adults alike.
MORE FROM THE BLOG…
I was raised Baptist not Catholic, but in my exploration of spirituality and the rituals I would like to participate in, I chose to do Lent this year. Lent is part of the Christian faith and is a time of penitence where we are asked to fast and choose items to abstain from in a way to mark the 40-day period that Jesus was fasting in the wilderness. Giving up certain pleasures is a way to foster simplicity and self-control, it is a reminder of our penance and creates a sort of suffering on our part.
As another year rolls around a new set of trends pop up in various industries. While I don’t consider myself the trendiest person, I do like to see where wellness is headed and if there is anything new I want to try or old habits I want to expand.
Here are a few trends that caught my eye for this year.
Oh sleep, that ever-elusive healthy habit I am constantly chasing. I have found myself over the years stating that sleep is my wellness flaw. I exercise regularly, eat healthy foods, meditate, practice self-love, and many other habits that make up my wellness lifestyle. But no matter what I do, sleep can still be a struggle.
Self-care has somehow become synonymous with selfish. We feel instantly bad when we take time to ourselves or over explain so as not to offend those in our lives when we need some “me” time. When did this become the case? Why is self-care such a bad thing?
Over 20 years ago back in 1998 I laced up my sneakers to head out for a run. I had never actually gone for a run before, but I knew people loved it and it was a great form of cardio, so I decided to give it a try. I ran two miles, felt proud of myself, and then experienced excruciating pain in my knee to the point where I was limping for a few days. And thus ended my running career. I did try it again years later living here in NYC only to have the same experience.
Picture this: New York City, 2009
I arrived in Brooklyn, the place I would now call home. It was July, it was hot, I was lost, I was scared, I was alone. I felt unloved and maybe even a little dead inside.