Why women need to lift weights

Photo by Maria Fernanda Gonzalez

Strength training isn’t just for men and their quest to be ripped. Recent studies show that lifting weights may have important health benefits for women, especially older women.

When considering a strength training program, whether you go to the gym, hire a trainer or work out at home, proper form is critical, as is finding the right amount of weight and intensity for your fitness level.

Always warm up first with a few minutes of walking or light cardio exercise. Lift and lower your weights slowly, engage your abdominal muscles and remember to breathe. Resistance training using your own body weight is also a valuable part of your program.

Here’s how strength training matters to women:
  • Lowers the risk of diabetes by preventing inflammation and blood sugar spikes, especially for overweight postmenopausal women
  • Boosts bone density - it optimizes bone mass in younger women and stimulates bone formation in those with osteoporosis.
  • Soothes low back pain by strengthening your core
  • Prevents frailty and loss of muscle mass that’s common as we age
  • Reduces the risk of heart disease by enhancing blood flow and reducing blood pressure
  • Makes you smarter - researchers found that senior women who did weekly strength training improved their executive cognitive function by at least 10%
  • Improves the quality of your muscles, which allows for more flexible joints and better range of motion

Make sure you give each muscle group a full day or more to recover after each workout. And listen to your body – even though it’s normal to experience mild soreness in your muscles, you’ve overdone it if you feel any sharp pain or end up with sore or swollen joints.

Are you getting enough vitamin D?

Photo by Bryan Minear

The sun is vital to our very existence on this planet, and the sunshine vitamin - vitamin D - is vital to health while we’re here. Nearly all of our our cells have receptors for vitamin D, which means it’s an integral part of our body’s ability to function. That includes our fat cells, which unfortunately tend to cling to vitamin D and block it from the rest of the body.

Maintaining healthy levels of vitamin D in your diet and through supplements can help ward off a variety of health problems, including cancer and heart disease. Spending about ten minutes outdoors each day without sunscreen is another way to absorb vitamin D, but depending on the weather where you live, it may not be enough.

Here’s where studies have shown vitamin D to have an impact:

Prevents inflammation
Reduces chronic pain
Maintains a healthy immune system
Lowers blood sugar
Prolongs cognition as we age
Lowers the risks of cancer
Improves our bone density
Minimizes risk of bone fractures
Helps our body absorb and retain calcium

You’ve probably seen both D2 and D3 on the shelves of your pharmacy. D3 comes from lichen or sheep lanolin and D2 comes from fungi. Our bodies can absorb D3 much better than D2, so D3 is best when you have a deficiency.

Contact me for recommendations on the most effective natural supplements so you know you’re always getting your daily dose of D, even when the sun’s not shining.