The connection between strength training and mental health for women in their forties
We live in a chronically stressed society, and there has been significant attention on the connection between strength training and mental health for women in their forties. Research has shown that strength training can effectively combat these changes and improve mental health outcomes.1
Women often experience various physical and mental changes that can impact their overall well-being as they age. Their bodies undergo a variety of changes. Hormonal shifts, changes in metabolism, and the natural loss of muscle mass can all contribute to a decline in physical health. Fortunately, strength training offers a range of unique benefits that can help women in their forties stay healthy and strong mentally and physically.
Strength training comes in different varieties.
Before we dive into the specifics, it’s worth noting that there are a variety of different types of strength training. And everyone is different and may gravitate towards what is accessible and what they enjoy, which is important when strength training to help your mental health. Some women prefer to focus on weight lifting, while others may prefer to incorporate resistance bands or bodyweight exercises into their routines. Regardless of the specific approach, however, strength training can have a range of benefits for women in their forties.
Of course, like any form of exercise, strength training does come with some risks. Women new to strength training should start slowly and gradually increase the intensity of their workouts over time. It’s also important to warm up properly before each workout and to use the proper form to avoid injury.
The loss of muscle mass can affect women in their forties mental health
First and foremost, strength training can help women maintain muscle mass as they age. This is particularly important for women, who tend to lose muscle mass more quickly than men. By engaging in regular strength training, women can help offset this loss and maintain their strength and mobility well into their golden years. It is suggested that women in their forties should be training a minimum of three times a week to maintain muscles.
The loss of muscle mass can negatively affect mental health in several ways.
- It can cause decreased mobility and independence, leading to feelings of helplessness and depression.
- Muscle loss can lead to decreased energy levels, making it harder to engage in physical activity and potentially leading to a less active lifestyle, which can also contribute to depression.
- The loss of muscle mass can affect hormone levels, including testosterone and estrogen, which can impact mood and cognitive function.2.
Loss of bone density can affect women in their forties mental health
Strength training can also help women improve their bone density. As women age, their bodies become more susceptible to osteoporosis and other bone-related issues. However, studies have shown that strength training can help increase bone density, reducing the risk of fractures and other injuries.3
Research has shown that the loss of bone density in women’s forties can have a negative impact on their mental health.3 This is because the decrease in estrogen levels that occurs during this time can lead to an increased risk of depression and anxiety. The physical pain and limitations that can result from osteoporosis and other bone density disorders can cause stress and contribute to feelings of frustration and sadness. It is important for women to maintain good bone health through exercise, a balanced diet, and regular check-ups with their healthcare providers to help prevent these negative effects on mental health.
Strength training benefits mental health for women in their forties.
The benefits of strength training go beyond just physical health. Research has also shown that strength training can positively impact mental health outcomes for women in their forties. Strength training has been shown to be an effective way to combat depression and anxiety, two common mental health issues among women in this age group.
How does strength training help improve mental health outcomes?
- One key factor is the release of endorphins that occurs during exercise. Endorphins are chemicals produced by the body known to improve mood and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. By engaging in regular strength training exercises, women can experience the release of these endorphins, which can help improve overall mood and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.
- Strength training leads to the release of endorphins; strength training can also help improve self-esteem and body image. As women age, they may experience changes in their physical appearance that can impact their self-esteem. By engaging in regular strength training exercises, women can improve their physical strength and overall appearance, which can help boost self-esteem and improve body image.
- Another way that strength training can improve mental health outcomes is by providing a sense of community and social support. Many women in their forties may feel isolated or disconnected from others, which can impact their mental health. By joining a strength training group or class, women can connect with others who share similar interests and goals, providing a sense of community and social support. If you’re a woman in your forties looking to improve your overall well-being, consider incorporating strength training into your fitness routine.
Additional ways strength training can improve mental health for women in their forties
We know strength training can also have a positive impact on physical, but it also is effective in improving mental health. Here are some other ways in which strength training can improve mental health for women in their forties:
1. Reduced stress and anxiety
Strength training has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety levels in both men and women. By engaging in regular exercise, women can help regulate their cortisol levels and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
2. Improved self-esteem
For many women, strength training can be a transformative experience. They may feel more confident and self-assured as they build strength and see the results of their hard work. This can have a positive impact on self-esteem and overall mental health.
3. Increased energy and motivation
Strength training can also help boost energy levels and improve motivation. By engaging in regular exercise, women can increase their physical stamina and feel more energized throughout the day. This can help them stay motivated to tackle other challenges in their lives.
4. Improved sleep
Strength training can have a positive impact on sleep quality. By engaging in regular exercise, women may find it easier to fall asleep at night and stay asleep throughout the night. This can have a range of benefits for overall health and well-being.
The benefits of strength training for women in their forties are numerous and well-documented. By engaging in regular exercise, women can help maintain their physical health, improve their mental health, and enjoy a higher quality of life well into their golden years. Strength training also helps with hormonal balance in women in their forties. I am on a mission to help strong women get stronger and share workout routines, recipes, and other resources to help women in their forties strength train. Follow me on Instagram or Facebook to get bite-sized information to help you on your journey.
What questions do you have about strength training in your forties?
1. Herring, M. P., & Caravalho, A. (2010). Mental Health Benefits of Strength Training in Adults. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1177/1559827610368771
2. Gariballa, S., Alessa, A. Associations between low muscle mass, blood-borne nutritional status and mental health in older patients. BMC Nutr 6, 6 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40795-019-0330-7
3. Matteo Ponzano, MSc https://doi.org/10.1093/ptj/pzaa221, Progressive Resistance Training for Improving Health-Related Outcomes in People at Risk of Fracture: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials, Physical Therapy, Volume 101, Issue 2, February 2021, pzaa221,