I want to see more women in the weight room. There are numerous health benefits to resistance training that we need to take advantage of.
There is a stigma out there that associates weight lifting with an increase in body size and I’d like to share my thoughts on that. Your body composition will change if you adopt a healthy weight lifting routine. You will develop lean body mass and you will lose fat mass. You absolutely will increase your body size if you lift weights often and do not regulate your diet. By doing that, you are increasing both muscle and fat mass — a major no-no. I do not promote unregulated eating. If you fuel your body properly, like I have discussed in previous posts, then you will not experience that phenomenon. It is a fact that muscle weighs more than fat does and that is because it is a more dense tissue. But, that muscle is calorically inefficient, meaning your body has to burn more calories in order to maintain that muscle mass + prevent protein degradation. This leads to a slightly higher BMR/RMR compared to a body (of the same weight) that has less muscle. Fat is calorically efficient, meaning it is a fabulous place to store energy in adipose tissue, which does not cost the body energy to maintain. Your body does not have to work hard to keep fat around. Bottom line: we want more muscle and less fat, and for so many reasons..
1. Strengthens bones. Lifting weights not only makes your muscles stronger, it makes your bones stronger too. As women age, our bones start to demineralize due to a drop in estrogen and our smaller bone mass compared to men. This can lead to osteopenia or osteoporosis if we do not take care of our bones properly. Bones will increase calcium absorption after a weight bearing aerobic or resistance exercise, which can lead to an increase in bone mineral density! Note: you must consume adequate calcium and vitamin D to help build your bones – they can’t do it on their own.
3. Improves heart health. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women. Your heart is arguably the most important muscle in your body, and resistance training can affect it in a positive way. Resistance training can lower blood pressure and decrease abdominal fat, which are some of the precursors of heart disease.
4. Reduces or eliminates cramps. Imagine not having to put life on hold because you feel bloated, have cramps and are just plain crabby. Exercising releases endorphins, which not only improve your mood but also act as a temporary pain reliever. Women who exercise regularly experience less or more mild cramps during their periods (I’ve experienced this first hand.) Additionally, exercising helps to curb cravings and motivates healthy decisions. We all know this is particularly helpful for that time of the month.
5. Self defense. I think it is important for women to be able to defend themselves if they are put in a dangerous situation. Having the confidence in your strength that you would be able to put up a good fight is somewhat of a comfort. I hate that we have to worry about something like this, but self-defense is an important skill to have.
Weight lifting is an incredibly gratifying mode of exercising. Not only do you see positive changes in your body, you also feel yourself getting stronger. Health is a complex state of the body, mind and soul. We have to work hard and make it a priority in order to achieve that healthy balance. There are so many aspects of health that need to be tended to. There are no quick fixes that are effective and long lasting. Baby steps in the right direction will lead you to happy and healthy lifestyle.
“It is a shame for a women to grow old without ever seeing the strength and beauty of which her body is capable of.” – Socrates