Many women might say that lifting weights makes them look masculine and is only for men. When approaching some of my friends and I ask them about their weight loss journeys, they‘ll tell me about the cardio programs they're doing along with the nutritional things about their diet that they've changed.
At the mention of weight lifting, muscle building, or strength training, they’ll scrunch up their noses and nearly shut down. What they don’t know that strength training is important for a woman’s body, and not just one that wants to lose weight.
There are six benefits to gaining muscle. These benefit women by doing the following:
ONE: Improved Bone Density
Low bone density runs the risk of osteoporosis, even young. When women do strength training, that lowers the risk of osteoporosis and broken bones.
Although women have a higher chance of this when over the age of 65, it is important to start strengthening those bones now when it’s easier.
Here are some statistics for you.
If that doesn’t change your mind about strength training, broken bones should! Estrogen in women protects bones, but this protection is reduced significantly when women reach menopause. This also creates a higher risk for osteoporosis.
TWO: Higher Metabolism
Have you ever heard you and your girlfriends talking about their metabolisms? How it’s harder for them because they have a low one, that they’ll never be able to eat bread or cookies like their athletic sons. Or maybe, they'll mention how a slow metabolism completely shots your health? First, let's define what a metabolism is.
Your metabolism is defined as "the series of chemical reactions in a living organism that create and break down energy necessary for life." While high metabolisms make a person more energized, it doesn't necessarily mean that they will have an easier time losing weight.
People with higher metabolisms have trouble gaining weight and sustaining their it because they have to eat so much. If we’re one of the 1 in 3 Americans that are obese, it makes sense why we aren’t concerned with our alter egos that can’t gain weight!
There are some downsides to having a high metabolism. They may include
So why would you want a higher metabolism, then?
More fat means fewer calories burned when resting. To raise your metabolism, it’s important to eat the right foods, getting enough exercise, and get enough sleep to sustain it.
THREE: Improved Heart Health
It’s no secret what improved heart health can do for your body. Can we say lowered blood pressure, lower risk for type two diabetes? Here are some specific things physical exercise through weight lifting can do for a woman's body:
Have you ever felt better when you’ve gotten up earlier? How about when you’ve eaten something good for your body, or gotten a task done when you’ve put something off? Adding weight lifting to your exercise regimen has been shown to improve not only your mood but your confidence.
A study published in the June issue of JAMA Psychiatry attested to the benefit of improved depressive state on clinical trials affecting more than 1,800 people. It was found that people with mild to moderate depression who did resistance training two more days a week saw powerful reductions in their symptoms, compared with people who did not.
Imagine coupling this with a new regimen of getting up earlier, having more time in your day, and getting better sleep. You’ll be pretty much invisible.
If you’re still skeptical, you need to look at it like this: strength training isn’t a means just to get stronger, but also helps give the lifter a more meaningful mood boost.
The study showed that this was a result regardless of health status, the frequency of weight training, or whether the participant got stronger as a result of their workouts.
This is to say that no matter where you are-- weight loss, the maintaining weight, or weight gain gain, as a woman, you can benefit from lifting weights.
FIVE: Improved Sleep
When we exercise we may feel more energetic and ready for the day, but this helps us during the night so we can win down and go into a restless, deep sleep.
Sleep is something we all can benefit from. If not a few extra winks in the afternoon, more sleep at night will help your overall feelings during the day, lessen the feelings of restlessness and help you avoid your afternoon slump.
A study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests cleaning up your sleep routine and practicing good sleep hygiene can be attributed through exercising.
We might think of hygiene is flossing before going to bed, but this goes much m deeper than that.
Good sleep hygiene means preparing a routine that you do every night before bed. this would include
Another study looked at the effects of exercise in treating sleep insomnia and also whether the effects changed based on late afternoon or morning exercise.
9 individuals were tested and studied, and the results showed that sleep latency went down and patients woke up earlier than their usual time. It was also shown that their quality of sleep significantly increased compared to past sleep cycles.
Late afternoon vs. morning exercise did not have a significant impact on the group. Also again, their quality of life and mood were shown to have increased as a result of the added exercise.
SIX: Improved Brain functioning
Ever find yourself forgetting things?
Recent studies have shown that proper exercise can help improve memory and cognitive function.
The group studied that did the weight training scored significantly higher than at the end vs. the beginning. They also retained the memory gain after the experiment for at least 12 months.
It was found that the participants that had the best scores were the ones that retained their strength. Only the scores for the groups who did stretching exercises declined the most.
What You Can Do
So what can you do so you can enjoy the benefits of getting stronger, getting better sleep, and overall living a healthier life? These are four simple weight exercises that can be performed by beginners that will help you start living out the benefits of strength training.
Exercise One: Chest Press
This upper body strength exercise will help you with daily activities such as pushing heavy doors or even shopping carts. It’s also helpful for sports such as swimming, tennis, and baseball.
Exercise Two: Lunges
Exercise Three: Lying chest fly
Exercise four: Reverse fly
There are several benefits to weight lifting. Not only will they it make you stronger and help you lose weight, but it can also improve your quality of life by aiding in the treatment of depression, improving sleep, and improving bone health.
How do you feel about strength training?