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 Will Gain Strength Without Bulk
Researchers also found that unlike men, women typically don't gain size from strength training, because compared to men, women have 10 to 30 times less of the hormones that cause muscle hypertrophy. You will, however, develop muscle tone and definition. This is a bonus.
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 Improve Your Athletic Performance
Over and over research concludes that strength training improves athletic ability in all but the very elite athletes. Golfers can significantly increase their driving power.
Cyclists are able to continue for longer periods of time with less fatigue. Skiers improve technique and reduce injury. Whatever sport you play, strength training has been shown to improve overall performance as well as decrease the risk of injury.
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.
If your maximum strength is increased, daily tasks and routine exercise will be far less likely to cause injury. Research studies conclude that even moderate weight training can increase a woman's strength by 30 to 50 percent. Research also shows that women can develop their strength at the same rate as men.
Reduce Your Risk Of Injury, Back Pain & 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.
A recent 12-year study showed that strengthening the low-back muscles had an 80 percent success rate in eliminating or alleviating low-back pain. Other studies have indicated that weight training can ease the pain of osteoarthritis and strengthen joints.
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.
You Will Reduce Your Risk of Diabetes
In addition, Dr. Franklin noted that weight training may improve the way the body processes sugar, which may reduce the risk of diabetes. Adult-onset diabetes is a growing problem for women and men. Research indicates that weight training can increase glucose utilization in the body by 23 percent in four months.
It Is Never Too Late To Benefit
Women in their 70's and 80's have built up significant strength through weight training and studies show that strength improvements are possible at any age.
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 did. Women who strength train commonly report feeling more confident and capable as a result of their program, all important factors in fighting depression.
Women who slowly and modestly gain more muscle will change their body composition. Such women will have more lean body mass and less fat.
Over the last few year's, "Women Only" Centers have become popular. Why? Primarily because of the content of this article. Also because, time is one of the biggest problems for exercise.
Finding a good fitness center should be a priority to you. A women's fitness center should address your fitness needs. Look for centers that offer machines that have adjustable resistance, treadmills and free weights. All this with a qualified staff will allow you to adhere to an exercise program.