We all know by now that having a strong, healthy heart is very important and that cardiovascular exercise such as a brisk walking, jogging, biking or swimming should be an important part of any exercise program.
This is especially true when you are trying to lose weight. Often people don’t realise that strength training is a valuable addition to any exercise or weight loss program as well.
Unfortunately still, many women shy away from strength training.
You don’t have to be a body builder and spend hours in the gym to reap the benefits of resistance training. You can train as little as 20 to 30 minutes two times a week to increase your muscles strength!
But what exactly is strength training?
To put it simply, it is the use of resistance (weights, tubing or your own body weight) to cause an overload to the muscle that brings about an increase in muscle fibre size (stronger muscles).
Often women hold the belief that lifting weights will make them bulky. The vast majority of women cannot build large muscles because they are genetically incapable of doing so. So don’t be afraid to lift those dumbells!
There are many very good reasons why women should strength train:
Number one, it creates strong muscles and helps support joints and decreases the likelihood of injury from other activities;
Two, when you strength train your bone density increases dramatically which in turn decreases the risk of osteoporosis;
A third benefit is that it increases resting metabolic rate. This is a big one.
Because of the increase in resting metabolic rate that occurs with strength training, women who are trying to reduce body fat will do so more easily.
This occurs because when you strength train sufficiently and consistently, it increases muscle fiber size. Once muscle fibers enlarge, they consume more energy (or calories) to sustain themselves and in turn increase your resting metabolism!
For women in middle age, this is very important to help ward off that sluggish metabolism and weight gain that can often occur.
This can also help people avoid some common conditions associated with an increase body fat such as type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension.
As well, strength training will help change the tone of your muscles and combined with an appropriate amount of cardiovascular exercise and proper eating habits will help change the shape of your body.
It is very important to note that you need to lift a weight that is heavy enough to create fatigue in your muscle. It is important that resistance training is done safely and this is when working with a personal trainer can help get you on the right track.
So don’t be afraid to add strength training into your fitness routine and start enjoying all the wonderful benefits!
Deanna is an Exercise Physiologist and Pilates Instructor at ENERGY. She can be contacted at [email protected] or 946-6006
Pullout: Often women hold the belief that lifting weights will make them bulky. The vast majority of women cannot build large muscles because they are genetically incapable of doing so. So don’t be afraid to lift those dumbells!