Although many women still share the common misconception that they will build too much muscle by working out with weights and doing strength training, studies have shown that there are so many more health benefits for women to get stronger. Having longer endurance, a more sculpted figure, and the ability to burn fat while resting should encourage all women to start adding weight training to their regular workouts.
Besides boosting energy levels, having a healthy heart, and getting better sleep, here are five reasons why women should be strength training.
1. Stay youthful
Inactive adults experience a 3-8% loss of muscle mass per decade. Regular strength training helps to minimize this muscle loss and maintain a youthful appearance. Consider this: if you leave a machine, (such as a car) without running it for too long, it will become rusty and difficult to start. We are no different. We need to keep moving to keep our joints lubricated, and in order to run strong (pun intended), we need regular maintenance. In other words, use it or lose it!
2. Decrease risk of osteoporosis
Woman have an increased risk for developing osteoporosis because we naturally lose bone density due to hormonal changes as we age. Women start to loose muscle mass at around age 40, and without strength training, you can count on losing up to 50% of your muscle mass by your 80th birthday.
Imagine someone who is extremely lean and does zero strength training – odds are they already have very little muscle mass. Now imagine when they are 80 – they’ll likely have half of what little muscle mass they had. These women will be the ones who have very decreased bone density, and as a result be more likely to suffer bone breaks.
Strength training also helps to improve balance and lessen the chances of falling, which is the most common cause of bone breaks as we age. Through regular strength training, you can slow the process of bone deterioration, therefore decreasing your chances of developing osteoporosis (or at the very least slowing its effects).
3. Manage your weight
The more muscle mass you have, the more efficient your body is at burning fat. Strength training also increases your metabolism, so even after you are done with your workout session, you will still reap the benefits of burning extra calories while your body is at rest. This is known as EPOC: Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption. Some studies have shown that it can take anywhere from 15 minutes to up to 48 hours for your body to return to a resting state after strength training. Building muscle = burning extra calories at rest. A definite win-win situation!
4. Decrease mood changes
According to psychologists and doctors, strength training – and exercise in general – may cause your body to expend chemicals that lessen depression, increase happiness, and decrease pain. When we exercise we release endorphins: neurochemicals or brain chemicals that are released throughout the body post-exercise. As women, we get to experience an abundance of hormonal changes throughout our monthly cycle, otherwise known as PMS. Regular strength training can help to curb mood swings and improve your mood in general. In my personal experience, no matter how bad of a day I have had, there is nothing that a good workout can’t help!
5. Boost confidence
Obviously, strength training and exercise in general will improve your physical appearance, and because women don’t need to worry about ‘bulking up’ due to our high levels of estrogen, our physical attributes are more related to strength rather than size. Physical attributes aside, if you don’t strength train, you will never know how empowering it feels to lift heavy things with ease – put simply, doing the things that women are not known to be as good at as men. There is nothing I enjoy more than heading into a workout in a gym full of sweaty big men and lifting more weight than them!
As women, we need to set a precedent for the next generation of strong women. It is important to remember that being strong physically is directly related to being strong mentally. Your body achieves what your mind believes, so add strength training to your workout routine today!
Jennifer Slauenwhite is a Fitness Professional and a Mother of two with a passion for health and overall well-being. She has spent her entire life in the fitness industry through many family owned and operated fitness centres and has spent the last decade cultivating a community of strong like-minded women. She strives to set an example for women to be the best they can be by channeling their inner athlete and putting up some healthy competition against themselves! She is also the founder and owner of Queens Fitness Strength & Conditioning Studio for Women in Toronto - follow her on Instagram @queens.fitness or on Facebook @ One Tough Mother By Jennifer Slauenwhite. #leadbyexample