The benefits of strength training for older women have been studied extensively and include:
– Increased muscle mass and strength
– Improved bone density and reduced risk for osteoporosis and related fractures
– Reduced risk for diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, depression, and obesity
– Improved self-confidence, sleep and vitality
The StrongWomen Strength Training Program includes progressive resistance training, balance training, and flexibility exercises. Classes typically have eight to twelve participants and last approximately 45-60 minutes. The curriculum includes two sets of resistance training routines, each with eight to ten exercises that can be used within the program. Both routines begin with a five to ten minute warm up that may include walking, marching, or light calisthenics, e.g. toe touches. The resistance training exercises work all of the major muscles groups, utilizing a combination of dumbbells, adjustable ankle weights, and body weight. Classes conclude with a five to ten minute cool-down that includes upper and lower flexibility exercises.
Generally, classes meet twice per week for twelve week sessions. Many leaders offer back-to-back sessions. Some take one to two-week breaks between sessions or offer the class seasonally.
StrongWomen Programs are implemented in local communities by allied health professionals, fitness specialists, and community leaders trained in the StrongWomen curriculum at day-long training workshops. The curriculum provides individuals with the primary functional materials to be used by community leaders to start programs within their town or county. In addition, together with the workshop, it provides information on fostering leadership and developing community projects such as working with local agencies to make neighborhoods more conducive to physical activity initiatives, such as an older adult walking program.