Women, lift heavy! We all know consistent exercise is the key to overall health and longevity. As women, we hear cardio, cardio, cardio to maintain or lose weight and use light weights with low reps to “sculpt” or tone our bodies. Research is showing that this may not be the case for peri- and post menopausal women! According to Stacy T. Sims, PhD, author of Next Level, this is misleading. Mid life is a time when our hormones are on a precipitous decline resulting in loss of lean muscle mass and strength. Although, BHRT will help improve lean muscle mass, YOU still have to do the work to maximize the benefits.

What are the benefits of heavy lifting…well they are numerous!
Increased strength and stability: Joint pain and instability are secondary to inflammation that starts during perimenopause, by stimulating these muscle fibers, you can maintain or even grow strength, and stabilization becomes important as we age due to increased fall risk due to muscle loss
Bone Health: resistance training can increase bone density warding off the dreaded osteoporosis
Enhanced metabolism: Maintain lean muscle mass, reduces fat gain. Loss of estrogen = loss of muscle. This can be overcome! Encourages fat loss and weight maintenance by increasing calories used at rest.
Anti-aging benefits: Resistance training has been proven to reduce risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and some cancers.
Mental health benefits: Look better, feel better, enough said!

So, how do I incorporate heavy lifting into my routine? First, if you’ve never participated in resistance training, you have to build a foundation. Start with moderate weights with 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps to build a baseline for muscular endurance. Your goal is to eventually max out your weight load with a rep goal of 6 reps as heavy as you can manage. This can take weeks or months to build up to if you are new to weight training. Make sure you warm up, and if you have never used weights, get with a trainer or a friend to learn to safely lift. And, you will not bulk up! Promise.

Lastly, a combination of BHRT, healthy lifestyle, exercise, and weight training will not only help you live longer and healthier, but the empowerment and the confidence boost pushing against societal norms of women and aging are incredible. For more information and guidance, I recommend the book, Next Level, Your Guide to Kicking Add, Feeling Great, and Crushing GoalsThrough Menopause and Beyond by Stacy T. Sims, PhD.

Michele Accardo NP