There are many stereotypes when it comes to exercise, fitness classes, sports and personal training. A few of the big ones include it being a man’s arena, it being more appropriate for twenty-somethings and that it’s all about looking good and impressing other people.
While you can find instances where this is the case, such stereotypes need to be dispelled, as they alienate a group of people who are perhaps more in need of safe, effective physical activity than anyone else: women of a “certain age.” (I’m talking about my mother’s generation, so I can’t mention a number. She brought me into this world, and I’m convinced that if I alluded to her real age online she would take me out of it!)
Exercise is not just about looking good, although it certainly helps with that! There are some important benefits and ways that it fights the ageing process which cannot be ignored.
One serious health issue which women need to consider is osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a thinning and weakening of the bones which can lead to fractures. Risk factors include being female and being over fifty (oops, I said it. Sorry Ma!) The good news is that osteoporosis is preventable. An adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D along with regular weight-bearing exercise increases bone density, strengthens muscle and connective tissue, makes joints more stable, and improves co-ordination to prevent falls.
You are probably feeling great, and hip fractures are the last thing on your mind unless you’re thinking of your own mother. You’ve finally gotten rid of the kids and are able to do whatever you want, after all! However, preventative measures like this take time to be effective, and it’s far better to start a regular routine of weight-bearing exercise now and build on your current bone density than to wait for the first symptom of osteoporosis, which is usually a fracture.
Another benefit of starting to exercise now is functional strength. Functional strength has a practical application in your life. Being able to do two hundred calf raises with a hundred kilos on your back is not functional. When do you ever need to do something like that? Exercises like squats, lunges, bicep curls, shoulder presses – these are functional. How often do you find yourself getting up out of a chair, climbing a flight of stairs, carrying your shopping or rummaging through an over-head cupboard? These are all easy now, but again, it’s better to increase your strength now than to ignore it and let it gradually decrease over time. Being strong in later life means more than looking good or impressing people at the gym, although you can certainly do that. It means being independent and enjoying quality of life.
Strength training includes activating and strengthening the core. This prevents pain in the neck and back which arises when chronic poor posture and lack of core strength result in arthritis in the spine, bulging disks, and bone spurs. There is another reason why core strength should be of particular concern to women: when done correctly, it includes strengthening the pelvic floor. Pelvic floor muscles are weakened by childbirth and by age, which can lead to incontinence (for example when sneezing or jumping) and can compromise your ability to enjoy making love.
There are many other benefits of exercise which also apply to men, including lowering your body-fat percentage, reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes (or helping to manage it if you already have it), reducing the risk of heart disease, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, improving mood, improving sexual performance, and preventing cognitive decline later on.
After everything you’ve done for other people and the hard work you’ve put into your career, you deserve to enjoy your best health. Making time for a safe, effective, enjoyable exercise program is an investment in your health, happiness, independence and future.
Have you considered hiring a personal trainer to create a safe, specialised program based on your personal goals, fitness levels, and health concerns? If you live in Adelaide or surrounding areas and would like to know more about how personal training can help you to improve your health, call me on 0422 124 244, or contact me via the Leow Factor Facebook Page, to schedule a free consultation.