It’s no secret that exercise is good for us. It helps us to lose weight; it makes our hearts and muscles stronger; it improves our joint function; it boosts our mood and mental wellbeing. In other words, it helps to make us look good and feel good. Combined with natural food supplements, it can be just the ticket to help us to live the best and healthiest life we can. Click here for more info if you want to know more about the different supplements you can take for your physical and mental wellbeing.
This article, however, is about exercise and specifically, the best type of exercise for women.
Every year, one of the most common new year resolutions made is to exercise more and to get fit. For women, this usually means putting on a pair of running shoes and hitting the sidewalks – or the treadmill; joining a gym and signing up for aerobics or spinning or – the latest dance craze – Zumba classes; or donning a swimsuit and churning up the lanes at your local pool.
If toning is on the agenda, then most women look to exercise regimes like Pilates or Yoga. But most women would rather undergo root canal treatment before lifting weights. After all, weight training is for men and the only women who would dream of doing so too are female bodybuilders.
Right? Actually no. Weight training has many benefits – for men and women, including women who want to retain their feminine curves and softness.
What is weight training?
Weight training is a form of resistance training, and is classified as an anaerobic exercise, which means without oxygen. Running, cycling, swimming, dancing and so on are all types of aerobic exercise.
Anaerobic exercise consists of short but intense bursts of physical activity, where oxygen demand exceeds oxygen supply. You use various types of equipment – dumbbells, barbells, resistance machines with pulley systems and so on to obtain the resistance which is required to obtain the benefits of weight training.
So why are women hesitant to include weight training into their exercise regimen?
Most women will say they won’t do weight training if they believe that it will make their muscles too bulky. Many also believe that it’s dangerous, bad for their joints, and once they have muscle, they can’t stop lifting or it will all turn to fat. These are all myths.
The benefits of weight training
More Efficient Weight Loss: When doing resistance training, your body is said to burn more calories than cardiovascular training. This is because your body is able to burn fat both during and after resistance training. This is known as EPOC: excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, where muscles continue consuming oxygen hours/days after the heavy training session. In addition, strength training increases lean muscle mass, which creates more muscle contractions and thus burns more calories.
Longevity: Healthier people tend to live longer. So what strength training does is to decrease muscle degeneration which starts more or less in your 30’s. Physically inactive people can lose as much as 3% to 5% of their muscle mass each decade after the age of 30. Keeping the muscles strong is essential, especially for women, in order to do normal, everyday activities that can become challenging as you age.
Stronger Bones: Weight training improves bone density and therefore decreases osteoporosis, which reduces the risk of breaking bones after a fall.
Strength: Women are believed to be weaker than their equal weight male counterparts. However research has shown that when you compare the cross-sectional areas of males and females the difference in strength diminishes. Women have the same potential to gain strength.
Emotional Well-Being: Weight lifting has a direct impact on improving psychological well-being, decreasing anxiety, stress as well as depression.
What about bulky muscles?
Some female bodybuilders inject themselves with steroids. Many studies have shown that women who do weight training naturally, are highly unlikely to turn into Ms. Universe. In fact, weight training in women causes a reduction in fat weight, an increase in lean weight and either no change or only a slight increase in total-body weight. You can expect a significant increase in strength and, for most women, no change or a decrease in lower-body girths and only a minimal increase in upper-body limb girth.
Additional benefits of weight training
● Improved insulin sensitivity
● Improved quality of sleep
● Increased energy
● Healthy heart
● Improved cognitive function and memory