There are numerous benefits to strength training for both sexes. However, it’s the majority of women that still find themselves only stepping up to a piece of “cardio” equipment in the gym, and not a piece of iron. I’d imagine, (since I’m not a woman, and my 4 year old daughter loves to lift 2lb dumbbells) that many women choose to avoid strength training for 3 main reasons; they are unsure what to do, they don’t want to be the only woman lifting weights amongst the men and the media tells women that beauty looks rail thin with a sunken face; not “bulky”.
So, this is my attempt to offer 5 reasons why you should lift weights, in hopes that the pros will outweigh the cons you’ve created for yourself.
- You will get stronger- Research shows that moderate (2x/wk) strength training can increase strength by upwards of 50%. We’re not talking about consuming 4000 calories/day and steroids strong. Just strong enough to lessen your likelihood to be dependent on someone else as you age. Daily tasks, lifting your child and carrying groceries all will be easier if you are stronger. The majority of people in assisted living centers or nursing homes are not there because of some debilitating disease, but because they are too frail and weak to help themselves.
- Become a fat burning machine- As you increase your lean muscle, you also will increase your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Your BMR is the amount of calories that a person needs to keep the body functioning at rest. Muscle tissue burns 2-4x as many calories in a day as the same amount of fatty tissue would burn. Adding lean muscle mass will be one of the best ways to help maintain a desired bodyweight over a long duration.
- Decrease your risk of Osteoporosis- Your bones remodel and increase their strength in response to stress. Strength training has been found to be one of the best ways to prevent Osteoporosis. Hip fractures represent one of the most common causes of mortality in elderly people. 75% of hip fractures occur in women. Mortality associated with hip fractures has been estimated about 5-10% within one month, and around 20%-30% of patients die within one year.
- You will reduce your risk of injury- Unfortunately many avoid strength training because they are afraid they will get hurt! Strength training will built stronger muscles and connective tissue which will help decrease your injury risks. This increase in strength will also serve to protect your joints. Strengthening the low back properly has also been shown to decrease pain low back pain.
- You will reduce your risk of diabetes- The prevalence of this preventable (Type 2) disease continues to skyrocket. In 2015, upwards of 12% of Americans have diabetes, and it’s costing the U.S. just shy of $500 billion dollars each year! Keep in mind that this number doesn’t account for people that are currently going undiagnosed with diabetes. While there are several lifestyle factors that play a role in developing Type 2 diabetes, strength training will help your body to respond better to insulin and improve the way your body uses glucose. These two benefits in addition to weight loss will decrease your risks and can also reduce the amount of medications a diabetic needs, and in many cases may lead to no longer having a need to take the diabetes medication.
No gym membership? No problem! You can get started with some dumbbells, resistance bands and your own body weight. If you need some ideas, check out our website for “100 Travel Workouts”;