Friday, May 17, 2013
Article # 490. Women and Physical Activity
Strength training is a critical component of fitness. The most effective fitness programs include cardiovascular, muscle strengthening, and flexibility exercises. Despite the proven benefits of strength training, many women do not lift weights for the fear of developing large muscles and gaining weight. It is important to recognize the differences in body composition between men and women and understand that men and women respond differently to weight training. Women have very low amounts of testosterone, a significant factor in muscle development, in their bodies compared to men.
Benefits of Strength Training
Women of all ages can benefit from strength training. Studies have shown that even women who are 90 years old and use a walker can benefit from light strength training.
Strength training improves your ability to lift objects. Having muscle strength allows women to lift heavier objects. Muscle endurance allows women to lift light objects more frequently. Many women find that strength training makes daily tasks a little easier.
Improved Bone Health
Strength training has been effective in increasing bone density and strengthening tendons and ligaments. Developing strong bones reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis and decreases the risk of bone fractures.
Maintained Muscle Mass
Beginning around age 20, adults lose about one-half pound of muscle each year partially due to decreased activity levels. Strength training can help to slow or reverse this muscle loss.
Controlled Body Fat
Many women do not strength train because they fear gaining weight. Building muscle actually helps to more effectively burn calories; muscle burns three times the amount of calories that fat burns.
Decreased Risk of Injury
Improving muscle strength increases flexibility and balance, which decreases the risk of falling and other related injuries. Developing strong bones and muscles can help to reduce the severity of falls.
Improved Body Image
Studies have reported that strength training can increase self-confidence and body image. Once results are noticeable, many women tend to continue with their routine workouts because they have an improved self-image.
Reduction in Disease Symptoms
Many people who have arthritis, depression, diabetes, obesity, and osteoporosis have reported a decrease in symptoms of these diseases when they routinely participate in strength training.
The Basics of Strength Training
Many people incorporate strength training into their fitness routine since it does not require a great deal of time to complete. Two to three 20-minute sessions a week is all that is needed to maintain a muscle-strengthening program.