Calling all women—turn off the treadmill for a minute and pick up the dumbbells. Evidence shows everyone, especially women, can achieve a number of health benefits from regular strength training, also known as resistance training or weight training. A program that combines strength training with aerobic exercise will enhance overall health and function by maintaining or improving muscular and cardiorespiratory fitness.
Women who engage in a well designed program should experience many positive health benefits, while also getting stronger and increasing quality of life.
Lower Your Body Fat
Strength training helps increase lean muscle, which increases your resting metabolism. This causes you to burn more calories all day, even while at rest.
One study found that after two months of strength training, the average women gained almost 2 pounds of muscle, but lost 3 pounds of fat.
Build Strong Bones
While all exercise seems to enhance bone density, strength training appears to have the greatest positive impact on bone density. According to the Mayo Clinic, strength training stresses your bones, increasing density and reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
Lower Your Risk of Injury
Studies show that this is particularly true for the lower back. This is probably due to increased strength and bone density in the vertebrae and connective tissue.
Resistance training has positive effects on blood pressure, cholesterol, body fat and blood glucose. And, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, strength training’s ability to help create a leaner body also helps reduce the risk of heart disease.
Increase Your Confidence
Many women report positive changes in their overall feelings of confidence after experiencing the many positive results of strength training. According to the National Association of State High School Associations, exercise increases endorphin levels, which leads to higher self esteem, and helps increase feelings of confidence while improving attitude.
If you are already doing regular aerobic exercise such as walking, biking or jogging, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends adding two to three strength training sessions per week.
While strength training performed properly is safe for most individuals, people who are not currently active or have chronic medical conditions must get clearance from their doctor.
If you have never strength trained before, it would be wise to consult with a fitness professional to help design your workout. The trainer will help you select the best exercises for you and the amount of resistance that should be used.
- Perform eight to 10 exercises that target the eight major muscle groups—chest, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps, abdomen, quadriceps, hamstrings
- Perform eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise for one set. Repeat for one to three sets.