Why Woman Should Lift Weights?

by David C. Cassidy. M.Ed.,ATC/L. CSCS
Florida Hospital Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation

With over half of all gym membership being sold to woman, would it be shocking to know that a very small percent of woman use the gym to lift weights?  Women who join exercise facilities are spending most of their time on cardiovascular exercise.  When asked why they spend so much time on cardiovascular exercise, hardly any of them answer with heart health.  The number one answer is weight loss and body fat reduction.  This is the completely wrong answer because we know that increasing and maintaining adequate muscle mass is one of the best ways to keep reducing body fat and improving overall fitness, particularly as we age. We also know that weight lifting is the best way to build lean muscle mass. Still, the number of women who actually participate in any formal or consistent weight training workout is still extremely low. Whatever your reasons for avoiding the weights, if you are a woman, here are a few reasons why you need to take strength training seriously.

You will become physically stronger. Did you know that woman develop their strength at the same rate as Men?  This is true!  By increasing your strength chores will be easier like, lifting kids and groceries shopping.  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.

Lifting weights will help you lose body fat. Studies performed 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.

Lifting weights 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.

Lifting weights will reduce your risk of heart disease. 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 combined with weights makes for a great one-two punch.

You can reduce your risk of Diabetes with weights.  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 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 70s and 80s have built up significant strength through weight training and studies show that strength improvements are possible at any age.

For safety reasons, I always recommend that you seek medical clearance from your Doctor before starting an exercise program.  If you need a physician’s recommendation one can be found by calling Florida Hospital’s Physician Referral line at 407-303 –DOCS. It would be smart to have a strength training professional start you on a program.  You can find one of those professional at any one of our Florida Hospital Sports Medicine and Rehab Center as well at our Florida Hospital Fitness facilities.

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