As we celebrate International Women's Day on Tuesday, 8 March Jo Groom writes on why it is so important for women to exercise at they get that little bit older...
It’s not always the easiest finding the ‘me time’ to be physically active. Women’s lives are super busy, juggling many balls, running homes, working, bringing up children. Whoever said it was easy? However, I remember a good friend once told me ‘if you don’t look after yourself, you can’t look after anyone else.’ If we don’t look after ourselves we will not be fit, healthy and have enough energy to meet the demands of our daily lives. Prioritising exercise means that you will be happier, healthier and around for longer to spend quality time with your loved ones.
Exercise really can help you find your mojo. I hope reading these reasons why you should be active will inspire and motivate you to fit exercise into your life.
1) Exercise helps prevent weight gain and makes safe weight loss easier
Ageing isn’t always so much fun, and both men and women tend to gain weight as they grow older. However, women face special challenges. We all know how hard pregnancy weight gain can be to shift, and then in middle age women stop producing oestrogen when they go through the menopause. This in turn means the body redistributes fat cells to the stomach which can make weight loss harder. Muscle burns more calories than fat so as women’s muscle mass declines with age this can make maintaining or losing weight more difficult.
By lifting weights you build muscle which in turn increases your metabolic rate making you burn more calories when at rest.
2) Exercise helps counteract hormonally driven mood swings
From the start of the menstrual cycle until menopause, women live with fluctuating levels of oestrogen and progesterone which can impact brain chemistry and moods. When oestrogen levels drop (such as before and during a women’s period or leading up to menopause) women lose a natural source of the “feel good” brain chemical called serotonin. This makes them more susceptible to moodiness, depression and anxiety attacks.
Exercise counters these hormonally triggered mood swings by releasing endorphins which leave you feeling happy and relaxed after a workout. It is considered one of the best prescribed drugs. When we exercise we produce more serotonin which makes us feel better and promotes positive mood. It can lift depression, calm anxiety and improve sleep quality.
3) Prevents bone loss and osteoporosis
Here’s a not-so-fun fact: women are more vulnerable than men to develop osteoporosis and related bone fracture and loss of height as they age. This is largely because women have thinner bones than men and loose bone strength more rapidly as they age due to the loss of oestrogen. Hip fracture, a consequence of osteoporosis can lead to immobility and premature death.
Weight bearing and muscle strengthening exercises promote bone health no matter what your age. Lifting weights also increases spinal bone density creating a strong and healthy spine. This coupled with an adequate amount of dietary calcium can be a women’s best defence against osteoporosis.
4) Helps fight the flab by toning muscles
Unlike men, women typically don’t gain size from strength training because they have less testosterone, so they will not bulk out and look heavier but rather develop a nicely toned body. Who doesn’t like the sound of that?
5) Prevents chronic conditions
Exercise can help to reduce the risk of developing a range of chronic conditions including cardiovascular disease. It decreases bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol, reduces blood pressure and the risk of stroke. It also reduces the risk of breast cancer and diabetes. Regular exercise strengthens our immune systems to fight off viruses and diseases. It is also a vital component of our mental well being.
6) Prevents lower back pain and poor posture
Strengthening the core and back with specifically targeted exercises is essential to preventing back pain. It can also help address postural defects caused by modern living long periods of sitting, slumped over computers, driving and carrying heavy bags.
7) Improve your athletic performance
Having a strong body can help with other sports by improving power speed, agility and endurance. Weight training and aerobic exercise will help the body to adapt to situations it will face during sport and also throughout everyday life.
Other benefits of exercise include
Improves sex life
Makes your skin glow
Improves your balance, which reduces the risks of falls as we age
Enhances our flexibility - reduces aches and pains
Improves our cardiovascular fitness
Boosts energy levels and increases stamina and endurance.
All-in-all, there are so many pros to exercising. It is really a magical form of medicine that can stave off so many ailments and diseases, helping us not only to live longer but to live longer well happy and healthy. No matter your age, or prior experience or injuries or abilities add exercise to your life ladies and reap the rewards!
If you’re looking for ways to exercise more, need motivation and guidance, or just want to stay physically active in a social setting, try joining Mojo Fit & Fab class at 9:15am each Friday. It’s the perfect combination of cardio and resistance exercises. Class size max 6 to afford individual attention and guidance.
I also specialise in personal training for women creating bespoke programmes to provide maximum benefit.