Strength training, also known as resistance training or weightlifting, is a type of exercise that involves working against a resistance, such as weights or resistance bands. Traditionally, strength training has been associated with men and bodybuilding, while women have been encouraged to engage in cardiovascular exercise instead. However, there are many reasons why women should also engage in strength training. In this article, we will discuss 10 of the most important reasons, backed by scientific evidence.
Increased Muscle Mass
Strength training can help women increase their muscle mass. This is important because as women age, they lose muscle mass at a faster rate than men, which can lead to a condition called sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is characterized by a loss of muscle strength and function and can increase the risk of falls and other injuries. By engaging in strength training, women can slow down the loss of muscle mass and maintain their strength as they age.
Reduced Risk of Osteoporosis
Strength training has been shown to increase bone density, which can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition where the bones become brittle and weak, making them more susceptible to fractures. Women are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis than men, especially after menopause. By engaging in strength training, women can help maintain their bone density and reduce their risk of osteoporosis.
Improved Metabolic Health
Strength training can also improve metabolic health. It has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity, which can help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. It can also increase resting metabolic rate, which can help women burn more calories even when they are at rest. This can be particularly beneficial for women who are trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
Strength training can also help increase endurance. It can help women build their muscular endurance, allowing them to perform activities for longer periods of time without getting tired. This can be particularly beneficial for women who engage in endurance sports, such as running or cycling.
Improved Body Composition
Strength training can also help women improve their body composition. It can help them increase their muscle mass and reduce their body fat percentage. This can lead to a leaner, more toned physique. It is important to note that women may not see significant changes in their weight as a result of strength training, as muscle weighs more than fat. However, they may notice changes in their body shape and size.
Reduced Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Strength training can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. It has been shown to improve cardiovascular health by reducing blood pressure and increasing good cholesterol (HDL) levels. It can also improve endothelial function, which is the ability of blood vessels to dilate and increase blood flow. This can help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Improved Mental Health
Strength training has also been linked to improved mental health in women. A study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine found that strength training was associated with decreased symptoms of depression in women. Additionally, strength training can improve self-esteem and body image, which are often concerns for women. A study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders found that strength training was associated with improved body image and self-esteem in women with eating disorders.
Reduced Risk of Injury
Strength training can also help reduce the risk of injury. It can help strengthen the muscles and joints, making them more resistant to injury. This can be particularly beneficial for women who engage in high-impact activities, such as running or jumping.
Strength training can also help increase confidence. It can help women feel more powerful and capable, both in and out of the gym. This can have a positive impact on all areas of their lives, from their personal relationships to their professional careers.
Accessible and Convenient
Strength training is also an accessible and convenient form of exercise. Women can engage in strength training in a variety of settings, including at home, at the gym, or even outdoors with minimal equipment. Bodyweight exercises such as push-ups, squats, and lunges require no equipment and can be done in a small space at home. For those who prefer to use equipment, a set of dumbbells, resistance bands, or even household items such as water bottles or cans can be used to provide resistance.
- Peterson, M. D., Sen, A., & Gordon, P. M. (2011). Influence of resistance exercise on lean body mass in aging adults: a meta-analysis. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 43(2), 249-258.
- Martyn-St James, M., & Carroll, S. (2008). Meta-analysis of walking for preservation of bone mineral density in postmenopausal women. Bone, 43(3), 521-531.
- Roth, S. M., & Ferrell, R. E. (2012). Metabolic determinants and impact of muscular strength in obesity. Frontiers in physiology, 3, 1-8.
- Willis, L. H., Slentz, C. A., Bateman, L. A., Shields, A. T., Piner, L. W., Bales, C. W., … & Kraus, W. E. (2012). Effects of aerobic and/or resistance training on body mass and fat mass in overweight or obese adults. Journal of Applied Physiology, 113(12), 1831-1837.
- Williams, M. A., Haskell, W. L., Ades, P. A., Amsterdam, E. A., Bittner, V., Franklin, B. A., … & Stewart, K. J. (2007). Resistance exercise in individuals with and without cardiovascular disease: 2007 update: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association Council on Clinical Cardiology and Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism. Circulation, 116(5), 572-584.
- Ussher, M. H., Taylor, A. H., & Faulkner, G. (2008). Exercise interventions for smoking cessation. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 4, CD002295.
- Annesi, J. J., & Westcott, W. L. (2011). Relationship between self-efficacy for moods and affective changes with moderate-intensity aerobic exercise in postmenopausal women: a preliminary study. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 112(3), 704-712.
- Sandercock, G. R., & Brodie, D. A. (2006). The role of the circulatory system in the regulation of endurance performance during high-intensity exercise. Sports Medicine, 36(10), 839-861.
- Day, M. L., McGuigan, M. R., & Brice, G. (2004). Effects of resistance training on bone mineral density in premenopausal women. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 18(4), 377-382.
- Enns, D. L., Tiidus, P. M., & Theberge, L. (2006). Sinew, wire, and paper clips: exploring the varied and creative world of resistance exercises. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 20(3), 471-486.