Why women today are the (physically) weakest generation ever

Kim Hookem-Smith
Yahoo Lifestyle
22 January 2013

Dig out the dumb bells, women are getting weaker and need to toughen up.

According to new research, our generation of humans isn’t as strong as our parents’ or grandparents’, and it’s more noticeable in women, who may struggle to complete basic physical tasks.

Our muscles have been getting weaker since around 1985, and our weight has been increasing.

But slim and overweight women are equally at risk, as neither has strong muscle supporting the spine. Good muscle tone supports the bones, reducing the risk of osteoporosis, fractures, arthritis and even general aches and back pain.

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“In Western countries such as the UK, U.S. and Canada, muscular strength has hit a plateau and muscular endurance — the ability to repeatedly exert force, such as doing sit-ups — has declined by eight to 10 per cent since the Eighties,’ says fitness trends researcher Dr Grant Tomkinson, senior lecturer in health sciences at the University of South Australia.

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Though Olympians Jessica Ennis and Victoria Pendleton have promoted the idea that girls need to focus more on being strong and fit, instead of aiming for thin, there’s still a worry among young women that too much exercise or weight training will make them look too muscly.

Ken Fox, professor of exercise and health sciences at the University of Bristol, told the Daily Mail, “The majority of young females want to look thin.

“They don’t eat much, they don’t exercise much, and because of that they have weak musculatures — it’s really not a healthy way to be.”

But actually, it’s quite difficult for women to get too bulky, because female hormones don’t wire our bodies that way.

Testosterone, which is far higher in men, triggers the repairing and strengthening process in the muscles after exercise, which makes the bigger. But as women have much lower levels, it’s possible to strengthen and tone without bulking up.

[Related: What to eat to build muscle strength]

It’s vital to ensure your muscles are getting worked out properly and strengthened to prevent a host of medical problems in later life.

The key is more resistance exercise, weight training and eating more protein to help strengthen and tone the muscles.

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