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Strong Women Stay Young
by Miriam E. Nelson, Ph.D. with Sarah Wernick, Ph.D.
2000 (Revised)

If you've spent any time reading the articles here at All Spirit Fitness, you know that we are always promoting strength training, especially for women. But don't just take our word for it - listen to Miriam Nelson, whose research at Tufts University proves that strength training can keep older men and women young and active, even up into their 80s. This is the first book written by Nelson, and it has since become a series (the other books now include Strong Women Stay Slim, Strong Women, Strong Bones, Strong Women Eat Well and Strong Women and Men Beat Arthritis). Dr. Nelson explains in plain, non-technical language how strength training keeps your bones strong, improves your balance, increases energy and, of course, makes you stronger. Then she offers a program designed especially for women who haven't worked out before, or who haven't exercised in a long time, to help them rebuild their muscles. The drawings show women with real bodies and real faces doing the exercises. Dr. Nelson explains very clearly the equipment needed and how to use it, and offers logs to keep track of your progress.

This supportive, encouraging book is not without its controversy. While Dr. Nelson points out that you must challenge your muscles to get the benefits of her program, some trainers feel that her weight recommendations are not heavy enough. The reality is that a women who has not weight trained before is often taking quite a leap to pick up even a three pound weight, and for someone who is elderly and thoroughly detrained, perhaps this is all she can handle at first. In addition, a woman who is lifting a reasonable amount of weights, working up a bit of a sweat and building a bit of a muscle is more likely to continue this program; all too often beginning women exercisers are forced into using heavy weights by overeager trainers and they become overwhelmed, do not enjoy the workouts, and ultimately quit doing them. Bottom line - Nelson's program works. Yes, it's quite possible to outgrow her weight recommendations, especially for premenopausal women who haven't lost too much muscle mass. If that happens, and they want more of a challenge, great! There are loads of other books and heavier weights around. Strong Women Stay Young reaches out to a very specific audience (and the revised edition now includes men among them), and her program is just right for that readership.

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