Why weightlifting is beneficial before and after menopause

Many women begin to experience the symptoms of menopause around the age of 50. As hormones begin to fluctuate and change, women may begin to experience a range of symptoms, such as hot flashes, joint pain, moodiness, and vaginal dryness. Menopause can also be accompanied by a series of physical changes, including loss of muscle mass, loss of bone density and slowed metabolism. Luckily, regular exercise can help alleviate these changes somewhat and improve overall health and well-being. The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada specifies in this regard that ” scientific research confirms that regular exercise has both physical and psychological benefits for women suffering from menopausal symptoms. In fact, physical activity reduces stress, enables better weight management, helps prevent osteoporosis by strengthening bones and muscles, and contributes to an overall state of well-being. »

But what specific type of physical activity is it recommended to practice regularly? In an article published in the journal The Conversation,Athalie Séquoia-Brun, lecturer in sports performance analysis at Nottingham Trent University and Jennifer Wilson, specialist in sports therapy and rehabilitation at the University of Derby recommend that women concerned include training sessions. weightlifting in their sports program. As a reminder, this is a sport in which athletes lift dumbbells loaded with weight and these two specialists mention four specific reasons which should lead to a closer interest in it. ” Weightlifting can have many benefits and doing it regularly can help you maintain good physical and mental health not only before and after menopause, but also as you get older. Just be sure to consult your GP before starting any new exercise programme, especially if you have any pre-existing medical conditions. “, they specify as well.

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Increase bone density

Weightlifting not only strains your muscles, but your bones as well. In fact, resistance exercise (a type of exercise that causes muscles to contract against external resistance) has been shown to stimulate the formation of new bone tissue, which can increase bone density and therefore decrease the risk of fracture. .

More specifically, the training must stimulate the bones by muscle traction and impacts (musculation with weights, jumps) provided that all parts of the body are used, in particular the trunk and the lower limbs. ” This can be particularly beneficial for women who are postmenopausal and at risk of osteoporosis (a condition characterized by a reduction in the density of the bones, which weakens them and makes them more prone to fractures). Research has shown that women who favor resistance training have significant increases in bone mineral density, including in the hip and spine. “, note the two academics.

Maintenance of muscle mass

As women age, they tend to lose muscle mass and strength, which can increase the risk of falls, broken bones and injuries, a phenomenon particularly present during menopause. But according to The Conversation, ” IResearch shows that weightlifting is an effective way for older people, including women, to maintain and even increase muscle mass and strength. For postmenopausal women, research has shown that those who participate in regular resistance training are less likely to experience muscle mass and strength losses than those who participate in other forms of exercise, such as stretching and resistance training. mobility. »

Added to this is the fact that other research has shown that strength training can also benefit women going through perimenopause (the transitional period before menopause). The study found that perimenopausal women who trained regularly with weights instead of standard aerobic exercise (like running or walking) over a two-year period gained about three times less abdominal fat in mean.

Boost metabolism

Basal metabolism is the set of reactions that keep an organism alive, such as breathing, heartbeat, brain power, body temperature regulation, digestion, etc. Basal metabolic rate calorie measurements serve as a benchmark for estimating total energy expenditure. Basal metabolic rate is determined by our genes, and depends on weight, height, and age. But basal metabolic rate is not fixed. It changes over time, depending on physical activity, loss of muscle mass, aging, sedentary lifestyle and hormones. Someone who exercises regularly will have a faster metabolism, and will therefore consume more calories at rest.

In this area weightlifting is a valuable aid in increasing lean muscle mass which can help boost metabolism, burn more calories at rest and thus help manage excessive weight gain. “ This can be especially important for women just before and after menopause, as hormonal changes can lead to decreased metabolism and increased body fat.say Athalie Séquoia-Brun and Jennifer Wilson. In a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, postmenopausal women who participated in a 12-week resistance training program experienced a significant increase in resting metabolic rate.

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Improve mood

Women going through menopause can experience mental health issues, including depression and anxiety disorders. Good news, exercise in general, including weight lifting, can have many benefits in this area. One study found that women who participated in a 16-week combined resistance-training program reported improved mood and emotional well-being compared to a program that only included weight-training advice. healthy life. Additionally, self-esteem, mood, and fatigue have also been shown to improve after prescribed resistance training in older adults, suggesting that weightlifting may have a positive effect on quality of life.

Although this particular study was not conducted specifically on postmenopausal women, it is likely that exercise may have a similar effect. “, say the researchers. Additionally, women who suffer from sleep disturbances and hot flashes may also experience reduced quality of life and mood, and resistance training is found to be an effective tool in regulating body temperature, which can improve emotional well-being. The main hypothesis as to these many benefits concerns endorphins, the hormone associated with well-being, released by the brain during and after physical exercise.

How to start well in weightlifting?

Start with a qualified trainer

Working with a qualified personal trainer can be beneficial in the first few months of practice, and if you are totally starting out in fitness. This professional can help you learn proper techniques, establish a safe and effective exercise program, and progress at a pace suited to your fitness level and goals.

Focus on your form

Good form is crucial when it comes to lifting weights, especially as you age. Poor form can increase the risk of injury and hinder physical progress. It is therefore essential to take the time to learn the correct technique and to start with lighter weights until you feel comfortable and confident. Using a mirror or filming yourself during workouts are good tips to make sure you’re on the right track.

Start with compound exercises or “compound exercises”

Simply put, a compound exercise is a movement performed using more than one muscle group at the same time. These exercises are great for building overall strength, including squats, deadlifts, and bench presses. Once these movements are well mastered, the next step is to include exercises that focus on a specific muscle or also challenge stability, such as lunges.

It’s all about progress

As one becomes more comfortable with weightlifting and feels that the dumbbells being used are no longer as heavy as before, it is possible to gradually increase their weight or l training intensity (more series, less break between each repetition…) to progress. However, be careful not to progress too quickly, as this could increase the risk of injury.

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