Less than 20% of women meet the Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s strength training recommendation of two workouts per week.
Are you one of them?
Some women are nervous about lifting weights. They are intimidated by the muscle-bound dudes in the weight room. Or they’re concerned about “bulking up”. Or they are simply unsure of what to do.
Those who are new to exercise often focus on cardio because they assume that’s how to burn calories and lose fat. If you ask them what their ideal body looks like, most women have a toned fit image in their mind.
Spoiler alert: this body that you want does not come from cardio alone.
Here are five reasons to work some heavy lifting into your routine:
1. Improved body composition
Most women who are in a fitness regimen are doing it to lose fat. They jump on a treadmill or bike to burn calories and decrease fat stores.
While this may show some results initially, as time goes on the body adapts. Cardio alone will not prove effective long term. By adding strength training into the mix, you begin to burn calories in a different way and to build muscle mass.
As your muscle mass increases, your body will burn fat more efficiently and begin to change its shape.
2. Increased bone density
As we age, we are at risk for losing bone mass and muscle mass. After menopause, our bodies no longer secrete estrogen. This leaves us at risk for osteoporosis.
Strength training is a simple and effective way to combat the effects of menopause. Increasing muscle mass can improve bone mineral density. Stronger muscles also provide more support for bone structure.
3. Less stress and more restful sleep
4. A healthy heart
As mentioned above, moderate-intensity strength training improves blood pressure. It not only increases blood flow but also builds lean muscle which alleviates pressure on the heart.
We’ve already mentioned that strength training improves your body composition. Visceral fat is the fat that lives in the abdominal cavity around the internal organs, including the heart. Subcutaneous fat lives directly under the skin. Visceral fat is associated with heart disease.
The American College of Cardiology reports that, regardless of weight, higher levels of visceral fat lead to an increased risk of heart disease.
Improving body composition through weight training has the added benefit of heart health.
5. More energy.
Whether it’s cardio or strength training, exercise will improve blood flow. Improved blood flow increases your energy.
Exercise will give you an endorphin boost that makes you feel more energetic (and some would say happier) throughout your day.
Still feeling unsure or uncoordinated?
Ask a personal trainer at your gym for some strength training guidance.
Don’t want to leave the privacy of your own living room? Check out YouTube for thousands of ideas for strength workouts – using dumbells or your own body weight!
It doesn’t have to be complicated or perfect. Just start.
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