Strength training gets so much more important as we age because we lose muscle. The loss begins as early as in our late 30s or early 40s; after age 40 the average woman starts losing about ½ pound of muscle per year – even more if she does not actively use her muscles.
So what’s the big deal? A lot. If you don’t replace the muscle you lose, you’ll increase the body fat percentage in your body. Gaining muscle has its perks: as you gain it, your body burns calories more efficiently.
But strength is not just about being leaner or strong enough to lift groceries and open heavy doors—it’s about health. Loss of muscle mass affects balance, coordination and the ability to do simple things like get up out of a chair and even open a jar. Strength training can increase your bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. It helps strengthen your heart and control blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes.
Some research points out that regular strength training even sharpens your focus and memory.
We’re all getting older – and with that comes taking responsibility for our health. I look at it this way: there’s a choice. Yes, choosing to stay strong takes some work, but the payoffs are huge. It’s absolutely possible to stem the loss that comes with age by both building and preserving your muscles.
Besides, I’ll have to admit… it feels good to look in the mirror and have a little muscle showing. It’s empowering, in a way.