10 Reasons Why Women Should Weight Train
Q and A with a local fitness coach.
Dear Fitness Coach:
My doctor recommended that I lose about 40 pounds to help control my Type 2 diabetes. I started on the South Beach diet and walking around my neighborhood a few times a week. One of my friends told me I need to add strength training to my exercise routine by lifting weights at least three times a week. I am a 51-year-old female. Do you think this is really necessary?
Wonderin’ about weights
Over the last decade, researchers have made extremely compelling arguments for the benefits of weight training for women and especially those over the age of 40. Still, the number of women who take this recommendation to heart is still quite low. Most women who exercise are spending most of their workout time on cardiovascular exercise. Whatever your preconceived reasons for avoiding weights, if you are a woman, here are 10 reasons why you need to take strength training seriously.
1. You Will Be Physically Stronger.
Increasing your strength will make you far less dependent upon others for assistance in daily living. Chores will be easier, lifting kids, groceries and laundry will no longer push you to the max.
2. You Will Lose Body Fat.
A study at the YMCA in Quincy found that the average woman who strength-trains two to three times a week for two months will gain nearly 2 pounds of muscle and will lose 3.5 pounds of fat. As your lean muscle increases so does your resting metabolism, and you burn more calories all day long. Generally speaking, for each pound of muscle you gain, you burn 35 to 50 more calories each day. That can really add up.
3. You Will Gain Strength Without Bulk.
Researchers have found that, unlike men, women typically don't gain size from strength training, because women have 10 to 30 times less of the male hormones that cause muscle hypertrophy.
4. You Decrease Your Risk Of Osteoporosis.
Researchers have found that weight training can increase spinal bone mineral density by 13% in 6 months. This, coupled with an adequate amount of dietary calcium, can be a women's best defense against osteoporosis.
5. You Will Improve Your Athletic Performance.
Over and over again, researcher have concluded that strength training improves athletic ability in all but the most elite athletes.
6. You Will Reduce Your Risk of Injury, Back Pain and Arthritis.
Strength training not only builds stronger muscles, but also builds stronger connective tissues and increases joint stability. This acts as reinforcement for the joints and helps prevent injury.
7. You Will Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease.
According to Dr. Barry A. Franklin, of William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan, weight training can improve cardiovascular health in several ways, including lowering LDL ("bad") cholesterol, increasing HDL ("good") cholesterol, and lowering blood pressure.
8. You Will Reduce Your Risk of Diabetes.
In addition, Dr. Franklin notes that weight training may improve the way the body processes sugar, which may reduce the risk of diabetes.
9. It Is Never Too Late to Benefit.
Women in their 70s and 80s have built up significant strength through weight training and studies show that strength improvements are possible at any age. Note, however, that a strength training professional should always supervise older participants.
10. You Will Improve Your Attitude and Fight Depression.
A Harvard study found that 10 weeks of strength training reduced clinical depression symptoms more successfully than standard counseling alone did.
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