A common question I get asked by women of all ages is “what exercises should I be doing to get stronger?”
My answer is always along the lines of “any exercise that involves weight bearing and if possible weight training as well.”
When I say weight bearing exercise I mean walking/running, body weight exercises such as squatting and lunging, and sports such as tennis or netball. It doesn't have to be high impact and it doesn't mean you need to spend lots of hours a week running. It basically means you have to do exercise that involves putting weight through your bones to stimulate them to get denser and therefore stronger. Not only this, but your muscles will become stronger too.
Swimming and cycling are very good forms of cardiovascular endurance training but we should not be solely doing this as we are not using our bodyweight. Pilates again is excellent for core stability but it's not weight bearing so non impact, however it can improve strength, posture and balance plus flexibly which is all part of being fit.
As we are all aware of as women, osteoporosis is a bigger risk for us females due to the menopause but we can definitely all be doing something to try and avoid this. Young women with low bone density have an increased risk of getting osteoporosis in later life, so it’s never too early to start reducing the risks. Also doing exercise makes us feel great about ourselves and has many more health benefits such as for our cardiovascular system, by reducing the risk of coronary heart disease.
So even if you just walk and do some squats along the way, or if you can jog for 20 minutes continuously or interval train (for example 30 second run – 30 second walk for 5-10 minutes). You can fit this into your weekly life or possibly even daily life, as every little bit counts.
If you do have time to go to the gym and want to weight train as well, than that's great. As a female myself I understand how daunting it can be going into a gym to weight train as it can be a male dominated area of the gym and we may not also be sure of what we are doing. Getting a personal trainer can be a great way to overcome this fear and reap the benefits of weightlifting. All good personal trainers strive to educate their clients as well as motivate. The more you do it the more confident and stronger you get, and weightlifting will become a routine you look forward to as you see clear improvements. Also unfortunately there is still the stigma of women lifting weights - that we will get big and too muscular in appearance. This is really not the case and I have done a lot of weight training in the past and I don’t think I could get ‘bulky’ even if I tried!
Also what's important is to mix it up, change you routine every 2-4 weeks to stop yourself from getting bored and new exercises are new stimuli for our body, so we continue to improve and make those gains.
I would love people to get in touch with any questions, and please don’t be afraid to ask if you’re thinking of starting weight training but not sure where to start.