Why Women Should Lift

Hair up, headphones secured, sneakers tied: you’re ready for a sweat-filled gym session to fill one of your coveted free hours of the day. On autopilot, you walk straight towards your favorite elliptical tucked away in the back corner of the gym.  While you continue to jump from machine to machine, there is one portion of the gym you never dare to enter: the weight room. Filled predominately with males, the college weight room is a place where many women never bring their workout routine. But it is time to call it quits when it comes to this natural gender divide, as there are many health benefits for women when lifting weights. So the next time you make a beeline towards your favorite cardio-machine, point your workout towards the weight room to boast your overall physical and mental health!   

Before diving into the various reasons why weight-lifting can lead to a healthier mind and body, it is important to ease yourself into using weights for the first time. According to The American College of Sports Medicine, training each muscle group as a set (arms, chest, shoulders and legs) two or three times per week at a light intensity is recommended when you’re just beginning a workout routine involving resistance training. So take it slow and ease yourself into this new workout routine. As time goes on, be confident in your strength and continue to increase the amount of weights and reps.

At this point, you may still be skeptical that venturing off into the unknown land of the weight room will really do wonders for your body and mind. You may be asking yourself: shouldn’t cardio exercises come with cardiovascular benefits? While a cardio machine is great for getting your heart pumping and adrenaline rushing, training involving weight lifting has great blood pressure benefits. A study by Appalachian State University found that people who performed 45 minutes of moderate-intensity resistance exercise lowered their blood pressure by 20 percent. Incorporating a solid, weight-training routine into your workout session can help keep your heart healthy and strong!

Along with the heart benefits that come with resistance training, lifting weights can also increase muscle strength. One recent study from UCLA suggests that the greater the amount of muscle mass a person has, the less likely they are to die prematurely. Taking into account the 600 muscles that make up the human body, it is important to balance cardio exercise with resistance training while sculpting a strong and fit physique.

Not only does weight lifting improve your muscle strength and help to lower blood pressure, it can also help maintain positive levels of mental health. There’s nothing like a long day of physical activity to make your head hit the pillow hard at night. Similar to the effect that a hard day’s work can have in allowing you to sleep like a baby, lifting weights creates the same tiredness in your muscles. In order for your muscles to recharge and be active the next day, your body must rest. Your body naturally falls asleep faster and into a deeper sleep when you’ve worked your muscles earlier in the day.  So what are you waiting for?  Grab a hand weight or head to the weight room – the time to add weightlifting into your workout routine is here! 

 

Sources:

http://www.exrx.net/WeightTraining/Guidelines.html

http://www.news.appstate.edu/2010/11/29/study-shows-resistance-training-benefits-cardiovascular-health/

http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/older-adults-build-muscle-and-271651

http://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343(14)00138-7/abstract

http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/workout/lose-weight/build-strength/benefits-strength-training/