Nutrition Made Easy For Busy People

How to Strengthen Your Bones & Muscles in Mid & Later Life – The Happy Menopause Podcast – World Menopause Day Special

Season 3 • Episode 6
Dr Catherine Walter, Academic & Powerlifter

The theme of this year’s World Menopause Day is bone health, something that really needs to be front of mind for women in mid and later life. Bones contain cells called osteoclasts which dissolve old bone and osteoblasts which build new bone. This regular renewal process helps to keep our bones strong, but bone tissue is reactive and needs impact to grow, which is why resistant forms of exercise are so important. So while the drop in oestrogen post-menopause significantly affects our bone density, we really do have it in our hands to arrest and even reverse that decline. My guest in this podcast is the perfect role model because she’s done just that and now has the bone density of a 20-year-old. I’m sure we’d all like to know how she’s done it!

Meet Dr Catherine Walter – she’s a shining light in the world of English-Language Teaching and an Emeritus Fellow in Applied Linguistics at Oxford University, but she’s also a world-record-holding power lifter, who took up the sport at the age of 65 and hasn’t looked back since.

Catherine’s story is incredibly inspiring and is a real example to any woman who wants to take control of her own health and wellbeing. We discuss all the ins and outs of power lifting:- what it actually is; how to get started; why it can make such a difference to your health in ways that reach far beyond strength and stamina and how it could help you become a whole new woman. I have to say that just a short chat with her left me feeling hugely motivated to get out there, find myself a power coach and start lifting.

Tune in to learn about Catherine’s fascinating journey, her helpful advice for exercising as an older woman and the physical confidence she’s achieved through building her strength which provided her with the ultimate put-down for an annoying guy in a bar!

Show Notes

Find out more about Catherine and her wonderful group of Linacre Ladies in this 10-minute film: The Linacre Ladies that Lift, and what powerlifting has done for their bodies and minds, by documentary film-maker Guy Loftus. You may have to sign up to Vimeo – for free – to view the video).

Here is a range of resources and research that Catherine has generously provided if you’re wondering how to get started or interested in finding out more about the benefits of powerlifting:

National powerlifting associations affiliated to the World Drug Free Powerlifting Association: some of these will have affiliated clubs where you can be guaranteed of a good welcome:

If you would rather start at home, here’s a great book:

Strong Women Stay Young by Miriam Nelson:   

Another great book for people over 40, The Barbell Prescription, by medical doctor Jonathon Sullivan; it features lots of detail about lifting in the gym.

Useful short podcasts on powerlifting technique for older people by Jonathon Sullivan:

 Good articles for laypeople summarising the results of research on the benefits of strength training:

Jane E. Brody’s article in the New York Times, Sept 4, 2018:  Preventing muscle loss as we age.  (A good sound basic article)

Nicholas Rizzo’s article in, 7 November 2018:  78 science-backed benefits of weightlifting for seniors  (Much more exhaustive, than Brody’s article, and including a long list of references to primary research articles, for the nerdier among us.)

Benjamin C. Wedro:  Being overweight doesn’t mean you’re unhealthy! (Based on a medical study):

One of Catherine’s very strong powerlifting friends, Emma Lewis, who writes from a patient’s view in the British Medical Journal: ‘Why there’s no point telling me to lose weight’:

 A few research articles on the benefits of strength training:

Dunstan, D. W., et al. (2002).  High-intensity resistance training improves glycemic control in older patients with Type 2 diabetes.  Diabetes Care 25:1729-1736.

Esmarck, J. L., Olsen, S., Richter, E. A., Mizuno, M. & Kjaer, M.  (2001).  Timing of postexercise protein intake is important for muscle hypertrophy with resistance training in elderly humans.  Journal of Physiology 535.1:301-311.

Evans, W. J. & Campbell, W. W.  (1993).  Sarcopenia and age-related changes in body composition and functional capacity.  Journal of Nutrition 123(2 Suppl):465-468.

Frontera, W. R. & Bigard, X.  (2002).  The benefits of strength training in the elderly.  Science & Sports 17:109-116.

Hess, J. A. & Woollacott, M. W.  (2005).  Effect of high-intensity strength-training on functional measures of balance ability in balance-impaired older adults.  Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics  28(8):582-590.

Hunter, G.R., McCarthy, J. P. & Bammam, M. M. (2004).  Effects of resistance training on older adults.  Sports Medicine 34(5):329-348.

Johnston, A. P. W., De Lisio, M., & Parise, G.  (2015).  Resistance training, sarcopenia, and the mitochondrial theory of aging.  Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism 33(1):191-199.

Matta Mello Portugal, E; Gomes Torres Vasconcelos, P.; Souza, R.; Lattari, E.; Sobral Monteiro-Junior, R.; Machado, S.; & Camaz Deslandes, A. (2015).  Aging process, cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease: can strength training modulate these responses?  CNS & Neurological Disorders – Drug Targets 14(9):1209-1213.  (Theoretical discussion)

McVeigh, J. A., Zhu, K., Mountain, J., Pennell, C. E., Lye, S. J., Walsh, J. P., & Straker, L. M. (2016).  Longitudinal trajectories of television watching across childhood and adolescence predict bone mass at age 20 years in the Raine study.  Journal of Bone and Mineral Research 31(11):2032-2040.

Nelson, M. E; Fiatarone, M. A.; Morganti, C. M.; Trice, I.; Greenberg, R. A.; & Evans, W. J.  (1994).  Effects of high-intensity strength training on multiple risk factors for osteoporotic fractures: a randomized controlled trial. The Journal of the American Medical Association 272(24):1909-1914.

Santana-Sosa, E.; Barriopedro, M. I., López-Mojares, L. M.; Pérez, M.; & Lucia, Al  (2008). Exercise training is beneficial for Alzheimer’s patients.  International Journal of Sports Medicine 29845-850.

Seguin, R., & Nelson, M. E. (2003).  The benefits of strength training for older adults.  American Journal of Preventive Medicine 25(3, Supp. 2): 141-149.

Winett, R. A. & Carpinelli, R. N.  (2001).  Potential health-related benefits of resistance training.  Preventive Medicine 33:503-512.


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