3 AMAZING Benefits for Women Who Lift
If you’re a busy woman that has hesitations about beginning a weight training program, I hope that you know you’re not alone. For some of you, if you didn’t partake in sports as a youth, you may not have been properly introduced to the weight room, so the limited experience may feel a bit daunting. And for those of you that try to avoid lifting weights because you think it’s going to make you big and buff, you can trust me when I say that unless you specifically train and eat to get really muscular, you’re probably not going to look like a bodybuilder overnight.
At the end of this, my hope is that I can manage to help you and all women over 40 have a better understanding that lifting weights can be a completely safe and effective way to exercise, particularly when weight loss and weight management is the ultimate goal. Lifting weights has been shown to help women by boosting the metabolism, increasing energy expenditure, and preserving muscle mass.
Boosting the Metabolism
One thing that you probably hear all the time that is related to weight loss or weight gain is something about a person’s metabolism. We all know that person that can seemingly eat an entire pizza and not gain a pound, whereas you might feel like just looking at the pizza would make you gain weight! Life can be unfair, and as we age, the metabolism continues to slow down even more. One of the huge benefits to lifting weights for women over 40 that want to lose weight is that this activity is actually shown to help boost the metabolism!
How, exactly, can lifting weights boost the metabolism? Weight training can help women over 40 to increase their lean muscle mass, which is more metabolically active than fat; the more muscle a person has, the more calories they burn. In fact, a 2017 study in the Journal of Applied Physiology suggests that a resistance training program can produce significant increases in muscle mass and resting metabolic rate in older women.
Have you ever heard of EPOC? Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) is the increased amount of oxygen the body consumes after exercise to return to its resting state. This increased oxygen consumption leads to an increase in calorie expenditure, even after the exercise session has ended. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research published a study in 2015 suggesting that resistance training led to a significant increase in EPOC in postmenopausal women. Since fat is the main energy source when you’re at rest, this means your body is burning off fat at a higher rate, even when you’re just sitting in your office.
Do you know how weight training can help with weight management? Consistent weight training can improve insulin sensitivity, thus regulating blood sugar levels and preventing weight gain. For example, in a 2016 study, researchers found that a 12-week resistance training program led to significant improvements in insulin sensitivity in overweight and obese women over 50.
What does lifting weights do for your resting metabolic rate (RMR)? By adopting a consistent weight lifting program into your lifestyle, it can increase your RMR, thus help to prevent weight gain and improve overall health. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Gerontology found that a 12-week resistance training program led to significant increases in resting metabolic rate, as well as strength increases over 15% in postmenopausal women.
Improved Quality of Life
A woman’s 40s is the most important time of her life because it sets the path she will be following for the rest of her life. The woman who chooses to be inactive and pays little attention to eating healthy is likely to encounter a number of problems down the road, some of which may have been avoided or, at least, minimized had she chosen to live a healthier lifestyle. Possibly, the greatest benefit to living a lifestyle that includes consistent exercise and healthy eating is self-preservation, thus leading to a much higher quality of life.
Did you know that a simple fall could permanently impact your independence? A broken bone, such as the hip, plays such a major role in getting you from point A to point B, but after menopause, women are at risk of losing their independence with a broken hip. Resistance training can help women over 40 to improve their bone health by increasing bone mineral density and reducing the risk of osteoporosis. The Journal of Bone and Mineral Research published a study in 2017, which found that resistance training led to significant improvements in bone mineral density in postmenopausal women.
How does weight lifting help control chronic diseases? After age 40, women are more susceptible to chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. In 2018, a study published in the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity found that resistance training led to significant improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness and reductions in inflammation in postmenopausal women.
Ultimately, what every woman over 40 has to be cognizant about is how she can fully improve her quality of life 20, 30, 40 years from now. Adopting a weight training program can increase physical function, reduce the risk of falls, and improve mental health. In fact, the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society had a study that said a 12-month resistance training workout program led to significant improvements in physical function and reduced the risk of falls and allowed women to live life without needing round the clock assistance.
Increased Energy Expenditure
Going down to the absolute basics behind weight loss, the one thing that needs to happen is a caloric deficit, which means your amount of energy your body expends has to be greater than that that is consumed. A caloric deficit is best achieved by reducing the caloric intake, increasing exercise activity, or both. While this is an overly simplified explanation about losing weight, it’s obviously not so simple, otherwise everybody in the planet would be lean and obesity would be non-existent. Nevertheless, one of the things that lifting weights can do for women over 40 looking to lose weight or simple weight management is increased energy expenditure.
Did you know that it’s not the exercise, itself, that contributes to weight loss, but rather the recovery, thereafter? It’s true! After a challenging workout, your body needs to recover and repair, and it burns up calories for this to happen — this is known as post-exercise energy expenditure, which is increased from lifting weights. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research in 2013 found that resistance training significantly increases post-exercise energy expenditure in overweight women.
While a woman over 40 isn’t going to get massively muscular if she’s just training recreationally, lifting weights can still increase muscle mass, which is really beneficial for weight loss and weight management. The increased muscle mass can increase energy expenditure by increasing the body's basal metabolic rate. The Journal of Applied Physiology published a study in 2016 saying that resistance training leads to increases in muscle mass and basal metabolic rate in postmenopausal women— the faster the metabolism, the more calories from fat that your body burns!
When you’re new to lifting weights, picture it like having a highway where only one lane is open. As you continue, it’s like a second, third, and fourth lane gets opened. The rapid increase in performance that occurs with newbies isn’t so much that they’re gaining huge muscles, but that their bodies are better at muscle activation, which happens to occur with a good weight training program. Because of this increased muscle activation during exercise, it may increase energy expenditure during the workout.
Did you know that fat is mostly burned when you’re at rest than when you’re working out? One of the nice benefits to resistance training is that it can increase the body's ability to burn fat. A study published in the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity in 2016 found that resistance training led to significant increases in fat oxidation in postmenopausal women. A big reason for this may be due to the increased muscle mass through lifting weights.
The benefits to resistance training for a woman over 40 are undeniable, but it can be a daunting task if one has no or limited experience. Working with a personal trainer can be a very valuable investment, even if you can only afford just one month of training. A good personal trainer will teach you proper mechanics and educate you on how you can train effectively, even after the two of you split ways. During a woman’s 40s, her body is changing and some of this includes losing muscle and strength, which can leave her vulnerable to life altering injuries if she doesn’t take action. My suggestion — start lifting weights and enjoy yourself in your journey through this maze that we call “life”.