5 Reasons Women Should Lift Weights
By Patricia Cherasard, PA-C, MBA
Just because you’re not trying to look like the muscle heads in the gym, doesn’t mean you should avoid the weight room. Lifting weights can help you fight belly fat—and it’s one of the most effective ways to maintain your weight loss success. Yet for some reason women are still hesitant to lift weights. Less than 20% of women strength train regularly.
Many women come to my office who are frustrated because they haven’t accomplished their weight loss goals through their daily exercise regimen. They understand that the key to achieve and maintain a healthy weight is by maintaining a lifestyle of healthy food choices and exercise. In reviewing their diet and exercise regimen, often times a lack of proper resistance training is the root cause of their disappointment. The main excuse given is the lack of time after completing a cardiovascular/aerobic session to focus on weights. The truth is that there are usually two factors attributing to the disinterest in weight training. The first is intimidation of the weights and the second is the lack of understanding of the benefits behind a weight training routine.
Here are the five reasons why women should lift weights:
Burn more calories when you’re resting: Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) determines how many calories you burn in one day. When you do a one hour intense cardiovascular exercise you can burn calories up to 3 to 4 hours post workout. However, with an additional 20 to 30 minute intense weight training (resistance training) workout you can burn calories up to 12 hours after your workout. Simply put, the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn daily--even at rest!
Look better at your weight: Because muscle is more dense than fat, it takes up less room on your body. This is translated into a smaller size at the same weight and smaller body part measurements. You get more trim--not just in pounds but in inches too. Plus, you look thinner and leaner!
Strengthen your bones: Training with weights put healthy stress on your bones, which increases bone density and reduces the risk of osteoporosis. This helps your bones to be strong!
Improves Balance, posture, and stability: Weight training increases both muscular strength and endurance. The effects of weight training can combat age-associated declines in muscle. The amount of muscle you have begins to decrease after the age of 30, therefore, it is easier to become “fatter”, even if you were thin all of your life. Building muscle allows you to walk straight, less stress on joints due to continued build up of new muscle!
Stress relief: Excessive stress promotes poor health and disease. Your body responds to everyday stress by releasing a hormone called Cortisol that promotes the onset of type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Cortisol also increases abdominal fat storage, which shows up on your waistline. Weight training provides an outlet by which you can channel your stress. It also burns fat so there’s less storage space for excess cortisol.
Remember, training with weights should not be seen as intimidating. It requires minimal equipment and time. As little as 20 to 30 minutes a day of resistance training exercise can help you succeed in your fitness journey.