Why Women Need to Lift Weights

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Leg Press Machine, photo by George Stepanek

You and I know that as we get older, there are more and more reasons why women need to lift weights. We know that we “should” lift weights, but have you ever wondered if you could just get by with some walking or light cardio? Who wants to build bulky muscles?

Walking and other types of cardio are healthy activities, but perhaps not as important as resistance training – especially as we get older. For one thing, we tend to lose muscle mass as we age, if we do not take action to stop it.  This results in decreased metabolism and more likelihood of bone fracture.

Why Women Need to Lift Weights

Over the last decade, researchers have made extremely compelling arguments for the benefits of weight training for women and those over the age of forty. Still, the number of women who take this recommendation to heart is still quite low.

Most women who exercise are spending most of their gym time on cardiovascular exercise, and less time using resistance that challenges their bodies. Resistance training does not have to be hitting the weight room with an all-male crowd and intimidating machines.

You have options and you owe it to yourself to explore them. There are specific women only fitness centers now available. However, you still need to find the right one that will allow your body and mind to grow rather than doing the same old routine without progressive resistance.

You Will Lose Body Fat

Studies performed by Wayne Westcott, PhD, from the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, Massachusetts, found that the average woman who strength trains two to three times a week for two months will gain nearly two 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.

You Decrease Your Risk of Osteoporosis

Research has found that weight training can increase spinal bone mineral density (and enhance bone modeling) by 13 percent in six months. This, coupled with an adequate amount of dietary calcium, can be a women’s best defense against osteoporosis.

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.

When cardiovascular exercise is added, these benefits are maximized.

Find more benefits and the entire story at http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/franco7.htm

There are many other reasons why women need to lift weights – it helps your self-esteem by making you feel better about how you look, reduces stress hormones and therefore anxiety and depression, reduces your risk of injury and makes you more able to do things for yourself.  It is even easier to carry those grocery bags in from the car!

It is never too late to begin resistance training – start out slow, and if you are unsure what exercises to do or how to perform them, get a personal trainer for a few sessions to design a plan for you and make sure you know the proper form. You won’t be sorry you took this step toward better health!

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Editor

Dr. Carol Morgan is our Editor and part of our Expert Network. She has a Ph.D. in communication and is a professor at Wright State University. But she also wears many other hats. Here are some of her other professional activities: Host of 'A Walk On The WOO Side' radio show on BrainSpeak Radio, motivational expert for the 'Living Dayton' TV show, eHow.com video expert, columnist for BrainSpeak Magazine, and an expert writer for various motivational outlets including The Huffington Post. She is also the author of several books.

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