Why is strength training important for all women
So here is my story ….
By Gemma Richards – Her Spirit Physio
Since a young teenager I have been very active and sporty, taking for granted the joys of being strong and physically able. As I have got older the work life balance has often toppled the wrong way and the aches and pains started to creep in. For the first time I found myself stiff getting out of bed in the mornings and old injuries seemed to be coming back to haunt me.
As a physiotherapist I spend most of my working day advising and educating people on the benefits of keeping active and getting stronger. I knew the way I was feeling was because I had allowed my own strength and fitness to drop, not listening to my own advice!
An eye-opening statistic is that lean muscle mass starts to decrease every decade from the age of 30, decreasing by 3-8%, and after the age of 50, decreasing by 5-10%, (3,4,6).
For women in particular these decades, between the ages of 30-50, are key times in our lives when we are often busy building a career, starting a family and hitting the inevitable menopause. All these life events consume our time and often take us away from leading a more active lifestyle or cause us to develop fatigue, pain and altered mood, making us feel less able and motivated to keep active.
Strength training has many health benefits, including, reducing blood pressure (1), reducing onset of type II diabetes (6), improving bone mineral density (6), reducing pain and discomfort from arthritic conditions, reducing your chance of falling and frailty as we get older (3) and improving your mental health and wellbeing (3).
It does that by improving your cardiovascular fitness (6), improving your glucose tolerance (6), improving, and preserving bone density, providing support for your joints, ligaments and tendons (2), improving your balance and balance reactions, improving your confidence and often helping you build friendships and social networks.
Strength training doesn’t automatically mean lifting heavy weights. One of the common reasons women do not strength train is their assumption of having to train in gyms, alongside our male counterparts, lifting weights or using machinery that they have little experience using. This creates fear of looking silly, feeling intimidated, and under confidence, all barriers that stop us taking part.
The reality is that strength training involves body weight exercise, working with resistance bands and light weights to more specific heavier loads using machines and free weights in the gym.
From an injury prevention point of view, your experience in strength training is important. Learning to move your own body correctly through common movement patterns, like a squat, is important to not only reduce your chances of injury but also to get the best out of the muscle groups you’re targeting. Once these patterns are established extra resistance can be added.
My work with Her Spirit has given me the chance to help women learn about their bodies and how to look after themselves during their exercise and training. Secondly it has given me a community and group of friends that has helped me get back to being active, stronger, and hungry to push myself and achieve goals I wouldn’t have considered possible before joining this wonderful community. I now feel healthier, able to run again pain free, get rid of those daily aches and pains, and given me the confidence to set my goals high, that being my first 70.3 in 2023!
For every member of Her Spirit the community provides answers to some of these barriers we have put in the way of getting stronger:
Online access to excellent coaching and classes catering for all abilities, available both live and playback, to allow you to fit them into your busy schedule.
Access to a supportive community, with likeminded women to do activities with, allowing you to not feel alone and build your confidence to achieve things you never thought possible.
In my opinion there are only positives to be had in doing strength training and getting stronger. If you haven’t already take the first steps, put your trainers on and give it a go, you won’t regret it!
- Colliander EB, Tesch PA. Blood pressure in resistance trained athletes. Can J Applied Sport Sci 1988; 13: 31-4
- Fisher J, Steele J, Bruce-Low S, Smith D. Evidence-Based Resistance Training Recommendations. Medicina Sportiva. 2011; 15 (3): 147-162.
- Fragala MS, Cadore EL, Dorgo S, Izquierdo M, Kraemer WJ, Peterson MD, Ryan ED. Resistance Training for Older Adults: Position Statement From the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2019; 33 (8).
- Hagstrom AD, Marshall, PW, Halaki M, Hackett DA. The Effect of Resistance Training in Women on Dynamic Strength and Muscular Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review with Meta-analysis. 2019.
- Vasudevan A, Ford E. Motivational Factors and Barriers Towards Initiating and Maintaing Strength Training in Women: a Systematic Review and Meta-synthesis. 2022; 23: 674-695.
- Westcott WL. Resistance Training is Medicine: Effects of Strength Training on Health. Current Sports Medicine Reports, (2012); 11(4):209-216.
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