Do I really need to strength train?

Absolutely! Do you want to keep your metabolism up, ditch fluffy arms and legs, preserve bone mass (and thus decrease your risk of osteoporosis, which rises after the menopause), avoid injuries, pains and aches, and just feel stronger—carry out grocery bags, clean the garage clutter or just stand up erect and show off a healthy posture? If you answered yes, then you must do strength training now!

"Muscle strength will decrease beginning in the 30s about 8 percent per decade, and the rate of strength loss accelerates after age 70," says Sara Mahoney, Ph.D., assistant professor of exercise science at Texas A&M University-Kingsville.

This rate of muscle loss results in a 40 percent decrease in total muscle mass between the ages of 20 and 60. However, strength declines at a faster rate than muscle loss due to age related neural changes (the connection between your nervous system and muscle fibers) that affect muscle function.

Therefore, you can expect to expend around 130 calories per day less compared to premenopausal women, says Barbara Bushman, Ph.D. This is around 910 calories a week less that you will burn. In other words, you need to make it up by tweaking your diet and increasing your physical activity just to maintain your current weight.

What to do? Lift weights. Resistance training is not just critical to preserve bone mass, but also is the best way to save your valuable body mass. Muscles are caloric burners, so the more you have, the more calories you burn both at rest and during any activity—and the more active you will be overall.

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