As we get older, different aspects of our health start to naturally deteriorate. This not only causes us to look older, but also to feel more tired and less like ourselves. One of those things is sarcopenia, or age-related muscle loss.
Muscle loss happens as a result of the changing hormones in older age, and it tends to affect women more than men — especially after menopause. Losing muscle mass as you age can make your skin look more saggy, and it can cause other issues like decreased strength and therefore, a decreased ability to perform basic, every-day tasks. Luckily, research shows that training with weights can help stop it in its tracks.
Using weights or resistance bands to build muscle can powerfully counteract the effects of aging. “Weight training helps rebuild and regenerate muscle tissue, reducing the decline in muscle mass that typically occurs with age,” explains women’s fitness expert Cassandra Forsythe, Ph.D., author of The New Rules of Lifting for Women ($15.66, Amazon).
That’s key because declining muscle mass contributes to slower metabolism, weight gain, and low energy. In one Canadian study, researchers found that women who exercised with weights experienced a 36 percent improvement in strength, plus reversed the age of the cellular energy centers in muscle tissue by 40 years. And the benefits don’t stop with the muscles: “Weight training also improves bone density,” adds Forsythe, noting that this helps lower the risk of falls and fractures.
Ready to get started? According to Forsythe, you don’t need to lift super heavy weights to experience the benefits. You can start off using weights as low as two pounds and work your way up as you get stronger.
There are also plenty of other options when it comes to workout equipment to choose from. Ankle weights can be strapped around ankles for exercises like donkey kicks and leg lifts. Resistance bands are great for exercises like squats, lunges, and arm workouts like tricep extensions and bicep curls. For some of our favorite exercise equipment to incorporate in your home workout, check out this article!
And if you’re in need of a workout routine that includes weight training, we’ve got you covered on that, too. We teamed up with fitness guru Denise Austin to bring you a simple sequence you can do daily to tone up those arms, firm those legs and glutes, and tighten up your core. Have a go at her routine, found here!
Here’s to more energy and a strength!
Parts of this story originally appeared in our print magazine.