Do you steer clear of the weight room?
by: Dr. Lauren Schofield
Do you just head for the yoga, spin or cardio areas? Even if you exercise regularly, you are missing out. According to author and trainer Joan Pagano there are an estimated 83% of women who do not lift weights. I was amazed at this statistic mostly because of all the studies proving the benefits of weight bearing exercises, that woman should know better!
A study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research showed that pumping iron two times a week can decrease back pain by 18 percent after 16 weeks, and by 42 percent if you’re strength training four times a week. More research has found that just thirty minutes of strength training two to three times a week can improve cholesterol and blood pressure numbers, increase bone density and speed fat loss. In fact, the average adult can lose about 4 pounds of fat and add about 3 pounds of muscle lifting weights over a 10-week period!
To inspire you to venture past the treadmills and into the weight room, here are 5 reasons to start lifting.
Number One: To build strength, muscles need to be challenged to their max. “Although using only your body weight can be challenging when you first start doing yoga, your muscles quickly adapt, so the benefits diminish over time,” Pagano says. When you lift weights you can isolate muscles and you also continually tax them, gaining strength by gradually increasing the amount of weight you lift.
Number Two: Strength training revs your metabolism. Metabolism is the rate at which your body burns energy (calories) to function. Whether you are sleeping, eating or exercising your body uses calories. If you have a higher metabolism, you will burn more calories without even trying. The secret to a robust metabolism is building lean muscle. So start weight training!
Number Three: Weight training makes you more flexible. Yes that’s right. Yoga and stretching are not the only ways to increase flexibility. “As you lift a weight, your muscle contracts; and as you lower the weight over the full range, your muscle stretches, which is where you get the flexibility benefits,” says Jim Whitehead, Ed.D., associate professor of physical education, exercise science and wellness at the University of North Dakota. Why flexibility is important is the more range of motion in your joints you have the less chance your joint will stiffen with age.
Number Four: Weightlifting can maintain bone mass……. maybe more than calcium. Since women can lose up to 20% of their bone density in the 5-7 years after menopause, boosting bone strength is crucial. When your muscles contract, they shorten and pull on your bones, which stimulates bone growth. Research at the University of Arizona proved that women who strength trained increased bone density by 2% over those women who did not weight train.
Number Five: You will build strength that will help prevent common aches and pains. Sitting at a computer, lifting grocery bags and all the other everyday activities can throw your body out of whack. Yet the stronger you are, the less chance you have of injuring yourself while performing these daily tasks. If you are not strong, your body is continually challenged in a way it is not able to handle, which is when injury occurs.
There are so many good reasons why weight training should be a part of your overall healthcare dynamic. Hopefully these five alone were enough to motivate you to start weight training today.