There are many and varied reasons why muscle mass is important in the human body especially in women and especially as they age.

Muscle is important for a vital role in metabolic function, aesthetic reasons, health reasons, body weight control, bone strength/density and resilience to stress and disease.

Muscle plays a crucial role in overall healthy metabolism because it allows you to:

  • Use carbohydrate calories from food as energy/fuel rather than store them as fat in the body.
  • Increases insulin sensitivity so protects against resistance and diabetes and other metabolic syndromes.
  • Protect against obesity.
  • Avoid inflammation caused by muscle breakdown.

Muscle loss makes it harder to move around and leads to even more sedentary behaviours, creating a vicious cycle and accelerating weight gain and muscle loss.

Why is muscle important for woman?

Muscle is especially important for elderly woman as they are at risk of being “skinny fat”. This means not noticeably fat from observation, but lacking muscle density and having increased storage of fat around the organs.

Elderly women are at greatest risk of losing muscle and have the most to gain from increasing muscle in the body. Muscle will help with preservation of bone density which is important as women over 55 are more prone to osteoporosis. The hidden link to prevention of reduced bone density is the concept of “loading”.

Loading involves building strong bones. The best way to do this is to lift, carry and drag loads or weights. Muscle is needed for this process. It is not that muscles make bones, but the exercise that uses the muscles that helps make the bones. Including strength loading and using major muscle groups in the body will lead to maintenance and growth of healthy bone density.

Muscle is also an important safety net against protein demands from the body during periods of illness. Skeletal muscle is an important source that the body can draw nutrients from in times of need such as illness. A healthy reserve of muscle tissue is a good form of protective insurance in times of ill health and stress.

The best exercises for women to build muscle

For aesthetic reasons women are likely to concentrate on strength exercises for areas of the body that lose tone and shape during aging. These areas include triceps, upper thigh, hip, glutes and abdominals. However, they are better off performing body weight or large muscle group compound exercises such as: dead lifts, squats and press ups and pulling exercises eg carrying, lifting, pushing and pulling and dragging movements. Done with “load” this will improve muscle tone, strength posture, bone density, metabolic function and prevent health conditions whilst improving their physique.

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Sharon Clare

Sharon is a level 4 specialist personal trainer and food coach and also an international natural light weight physique competitor with the WNBF9World natural bodybuilding competition). Sharon runs her own personal training company Body Coach Fitness. Find out more

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