Many people seek to build strength and muscle in hopes of improving their looks or performance in sports. Those are worthy goals, but outcomes even more important for your overall health and wellbeing are these:
- Prevention of obesity
- Prevention of diabetes
- Prevention of osteoporosis
- Prevention of injuries
- Prevention of age-related disabilities and limitations in daily activities
- Reduced risk of dying from cancer or heart failure
- Abating of symptoms (pain, fatigue, muscle weakness) of some diseases
Beginning about age 40, you gradually lose muscle mass and strength. In addition, muscle function becomes less efficient as you age, which means older muscles generate less force than younger muscles. But if you lift weights, you’ll not only maintain your muscle mass, you can increase it, and you can reverse some of the age-related loss of muscle efficiency. Research shows this to be the case even for those beyond their 80s.
Strength workouts can include machines, free weights, resistance bands or bodyweight exercises like squats and planks. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults participate in muscle-strengthening exercise involving all major muscles at least twice weekly.
Don’t be afraid of weights! For women, weight training does not lead to bulky muscles. They don’t have the testosterone levels that men do. Weight training will tone and sculpt only.