With summer here and swimsuit season in full swing, we want to feel a sense of satisfaction with our bodies after all of our hard work with dieting and exercise. For some of us, that contentment with our body image still isn’t there, even after numerous grueling workouts.
There may be something we’re missing when it comes to hitting the gym and establishing workout routines. Studies revealed, women tend to stick to cardio workouts to lose weight and they often forget about the importance of strength training.
According to an article by fitnessmagazine.com, the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) found that of 12.7 million female members of a commercial health club, ". . . only about half used weight machines and only one-third lifted free weights.”
Dixie Stanforth, a lecturer in kinesiology at the University of Texas, said in the article, “We need to make it clearer that for both optimal health and fitness benefits, women especially need to do a combo of aerobic and strength training on a regular basis.”
An article by Elizabeth Quinn, an exercise physiologist and fitness consultant, revealed women who lift weights just two to three times per week for two months will lose 3.5 pounds of body fat while gaining two pounds of muscle. These results came from a study by fitness research director Wayne Westcott, Ph.D.
Because of an increase in lean muscle and resting metabolism, strength training allows women to burn more calories throughout the day. Along with “battling the bulge,” strength training can also decrease the risk of osteoporosis, back pain, arthritis, heart disease, diabetes and depression.
Even older people, or those with health concerns (such as arthritis or heart disease), can benefit both physically and mentally by incorporating weight training into their workout routines, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
CDC also said that studies show exercise can “slow the physiological aging clock.”
“While aerobic exercise, such as walking, jogging, or swimming, has many excellent health benefits—it maintains the heart and lungs and increases cardiovascular fitness and endurance—it does not make your muscles strong. Strength training does.”
A study conducted by Tufts University revealed postmenopausal women experienced one percent gains in hip/spine density, 75 percent increases in strength and 13 percent increases in dynamic balance after two days of progressive strength training each week for one year.
According to the CDC, “The control group (of the study) had losses in bone, strength, and balance. Strength training programs can also have a profound effect on reducing risk for falls, which translates to fewer fractures.”
Although you may feel more accomplished after an intense cardio workout, remember to incorporate a few strength training exercises into your regular routine to improve your physical and mental well-being.
Reviewed July 25, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Shannon Koehle
Kate Kunkel is a journalism student looking to minor in nutrition at Arizona State University. She currently interns for EmpowHER and has a passion for healthy eating and fitness.
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