Last month I talked about the value of stretching, this month I want to talk about the importance of including a muscle fatiguing strength training session three to four times a week, for at least 30 minutes. What does strength training do for you? Quite a bit, actually!
Strength training, aka toning, muscle conditioning, etc., defines and sculpts major muscles, changing the way you look and feel. It also builds lean muscle mass, which is your body’s chief energy burner, so the more muscle you have the more calories you burn, even when you are resting! It protects the bones by building and maintaining bone density, which is lost dramatically as estrogen levels drop off. That’s free medicine! It also helps to maintain a proper range of motion in the joints by lubricating the joints as you go through the motions of training. Your metabolism is also stimulated for up to 24 hours after a workout.
The stronger you are, the easier your everyday life function will be- everything from playing sports, to walking up stairs, to carrying grandkids, critters, plants and grocery bags is easier when you are stronger! Your strength will also build confidence, balance, and greater stability, lessening the chances of a fall.
Forget your fears about “bulking up”. Muscles are beautiful in my estimation, but most women don’t have enough testosterone to get super bulky. Female body builders have to spend hours daily to get “ripped.” Based on your genetic makeup and body type results will vary, but being muscle bound is not a real risk for the average Jane.
The small boned ectomorphic frame that tends towards being lean can’t expect to define itself in the same way that the more muscular medium boned mesomorphic body will. The endomorph is naturally larger and has a harder time shedding fat, so muscles tend to get hidden in this body type. It’s good to be realistic about what is truly available to you.
Your new, stronger body will improve self image and help you to fight heart disease and diabetes. It will ease back, arthritic and rheumatic pain and for those with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome it is essential to keep moving in order to feel better. All exercise releases endorphins, those feel good chemicals that improve our sense of wellbeing. Strength training also slows the aging process by reversing the muscle loss that organically occurs in sedentary bodies.
Choose your weapon, madam! You can use free weights, balls, your own body, bands or any number of tools at home or in a studio, gym or club. If you join a facility be sure to get trained in the proper use of weight machines if you plan to work out alone. You can also take a class, hire a trainer, or do on line workouts in some form. Are you a TV watcher? Use your TV time partially or in full as your muscle conditioning time.
Take my 30 day/3-4 workouts a week strength challenge. Photograph and journal how you look and feel at the end of the month and I can almost guarantee you will be pleased by the results. Truly, strong ones stay young!
As for my photo this month, yes, I “Went There!” I was Wonder Woman for Halloween!