12 Reasons to Lose Your Fear of Lifting Weights
Despite all of the health benefits, lifting weights still seems to get a bad rep in a woman’s world. In fact, only one-fifth of women strength train the recommended two times a week.
Lifting weights to tone will not bulk you up and give you a body-builder appearance; it will, however, give you many health and wellness benefits. Here are 12:
1.) Say goodbye to fat
Combining weight training with aerobic exercise is the most effective way to lose overall body fat. Research shows that both fat and muscle are lost when aerobic exercise is the only part of a fitness regimen. Adding strength training with weights to a cardio workout protects the muscles and can burn 40 percent more fat.
2.) Burn those calories
Lifting weights helps your body burn more calories when at rest. After lifting weights, the muscles need time and energy to repair the fibers. In fact, researchers found that when people did three big muscle moves during a comprehensive workout, their metabolisms remained elevated for 39 hours.
3.) Looser clothing
One pound of fat takes up 18 percent more space than one pound of muscle. So say hello to smaller dress sizes.
4.) Better diet
Having a regular exercise routine in place helps you stick to better eating habits. We have heard it a thousand times before: eat right and exercise. The thing is, they do go hand in hand, like the buddy system, keeping you on track.
5.) Less stress
Exercise proves to be a natural stress reducer and helps us cope better with stress. When the body is stressed it releases a hormone called cortisol that holds onto the extra fat in the midsection. So having less stress also helps with decreasing cortisol levels. Lower cortisol = less abdomen fat!
6.) Don’t worry, be happy
Weight training helps improve your appearance and self image, usually making people happier overall. Research also shows that among those who incorporated strength training into their workouts three times a week for six months, anger and overall mood greatly improved.
7.) Increase bone strength
As we get older our bone density decreases drastically. This increases the chances of sustaining debilitating fractures and also leads to longer recovery time. A study showed that doing 16 weeks of resistance training increased bone density and osteocalcin (a bone-building protein) in subjects by 19 percent.
8.) Get fitter faster
Circuit training is one of my favorite ways to workout. You get more bang for your buck: a great workout in less time. Doing circuit training with weights increases the heart rate by 15 beats per minute, making your body work harder, equaling more calories burned.
9.) Heart healthy
A total body workout — with weights three days a week for two months — decreased study participants’ diastolic blood pressure (bottom number) by eight points. That is enough to reduce a heart attack by 15 percent and a stroke by 40 percent!
10.) Increased productivity
Researchers showed that on days people worked out, they were 15 percent more productive than on non-exercise days. This means you’re better able to accomplish your tasks within an 8-hour work day and finish your day feeling more satisfied and less stressed.
11.) Longer life
We have known for a long time that total body strength is linked to a lower risk of death from both cancer and cardiovascular (heart) diseases. Also, research shows that being physically strong during middle age is associated with living to age 85 without developing a major disease.
12.) Become a brainiac
Muscles strengthen both body and mind. Research shows that with six months of resistance training, cognitive function, short and long-term memory, verbal reasoning and attention span were all improved and increased.
Who wouldn’t want just one or two of the health benefits listed above? The great news is that we can strive to accomplish all twelve benefits by adding strength training three days a week!
What are your favorite strength training exercises?
Photo credit: therichardlife
Resource: Women’s Health Magazine, March 2011