It is no secret that the average American woman have a love-hate relationship with strength exercises.They equate strength training with lifting heavy weights and bulging muscles. Of the 12.7 million women with commercial health club memberships, an estimated half of them incorporate weight machines into their workouts with only one-third who lifted free weights. This statistic was reported by the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA). In spite of this, scientific studies continue to stack up in favor of it.
As we begin the year 2019, it is still shocking that there's a lot of misinformation regarding the effects of strength exercises on women based on unfounded myths.To start with, pumping a 150 lb. barbell is not the only way to train for strength. If your fitness program involve weights, it is highly unlikely that you will develop bulging muscles. And even then, it takes a lot more than just lifting a few weights.
Exercise is an important component for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It helps to improve physical and mental functioning as we age. Despite the fact that strength exercises offer exponential benefits on top of what traditional cardio has to offer, any mention of “weights” would have the average woman literally running for the hills!
Why Is Strength Exercises Important?
Muscle loses size (sarcopenia) and strength as we get older. This can cause unwanted aches and pains, fatigue, and loss of balance. Strength exercises can help reduce or stop this progression if done regularly. A published report in Science Daily concluded that muscle loss was greater in participants who performed cardio exercises only and omitted strength workouts. However, those who mixed strength and cardio exercises were able to preserve muscle mass and burned more fat. Many experts on the topic of aging consider strength workouts to be the real fountain of youth. Backed by science and research, here are the reasons why.
Increased mental and physical stamina - Strength exercises result in a stronger, leaner, and healthier body. The brain releases feel-good endorphins that are generated during and after exercising. Think of it as a natural elixir for your mood and body. You will be in much better shape to handle the stresses of everyday living. In one study, participants in the 40+ age group who followed a persistent exercise program were found to be more active and energetic. In addition, they are also more likely to engage in active events.
Better heart health and reduced blood pressure - Coronary disease continues to be the leading cause of death in the United States. Strength exercises help to reduce inflammation аnd visceral fat in the midsection - which iѕ one of the major components that leads tо heart failure.
Combined with cardio, strength training exercises may be as effective as prescribed drugs for lowering systolic blood pressure.
Staving off certain chronic diseases - In one study, incorporating a resistance training program improved spatial memory in older adults.
Reduced glucose levels - Strength exercises may show to reduce the risk of diabetes - which statistically ranks higher among black women. Adding strength workouts can assist with diabetes prevention by regulating the way the body uses blood sugar and improving insulin sensitivity.
Strengthens the bones and prevents injury - Studies show that by the age of 30 and up, the body loses its muscle mass as much as 3 to 5 percent per year. Adding strength exercises to your workout reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis by increasing bone mineral density. Having stronger bones mean that you can enjoy daily activities with more confidence and ease.
Joint stability and stronger connective tissues are achieved through strength exercises. Building lean muscle mass increases your balance and coordination. This goes a long way in supporting overall health and maintaining your independence as you age.
Slows down the aging process - Did you know that strength exercises help to retain the skin's elasticity and tonicity? Toned muscles replaces lost fat underneath the skin. In cases of extreme weight loss, surgical treatments may be necessary to tighten loose skin.
Exercises like TRX, yoga, barre classes, and Pilates help with body posture, flexibility, and movement; helping to maintain a youthful form. In addition, increased circulation achieved from exercising means more nutrients and oxygen are delivered to the body's skin cells – giving your face an instant glow.
Improves physical appearance - Strength training improves overall appearance and body composition with increased muscle-to-fat ratio. It helps with weight loss and maintenance by increasing the body's resting metabolism (how fast the body burn calories when you are not exercising).
Forget about looking like a bodybuilder - that won't happen. Women naturally do not produce enough testosterone on their own to bulk up. Biologically, we make less than one tenth the level of testosterone found in a biologically-born male thanks to the hormone, estrogen. This isn't enough to get us remotely close to where our male counterparts can naturally build.
Strength training exercises is a vital component оf аnу fitness program. Tо exclude it means thаt уоu are leaving оut a key element thаt will inevitably impact уоur overall health. Although it will take time before you start seeing results, the long-term benefits will be well worth it.
Valerie lives in New York. As a health advocate, she shares tips and steps on maximizing nutrition, weight, and fitness goals to help others embrace a healthier lifestyle. She blogs at Halfmile Fitness.