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Strength training for women is important
While consistent strength training is shown to have life-changing physical and emotional health benefits, it’s estimated that less than 20% of women regularly lift weights. (With so many conflicting messages in the media, reassuring women that strength training won’t make them “bulky” is a weekly conversation). In reality, the earlier you start, the better. Strength training in your 20s or 30s helps build bone density, muscle mass, metabolism, confidence, and self-belief, and solidifies strength training as a life-long, non-negotiable habit. And while cardiovascular training has its benefits, it’s simply not enough – there is no substitute for strength training for women.
So, it’s time to set the story straight. Let’s explore why becoming strong is vital for women:
Improves mood, stamina and energy
Like other forms of exercise, strength training results in a release of endorphins, one of our natural ‘happy hormones’ that is associated with reward-based activity. Endorphins are responsible for that post-workout buzz and the lift in energy throughout the day after a solid training session. Weight training has also been found to significantly reduce symptoms of mild-moderate depression and studies suggest that the impact on severe depression may be even greater.
Increases sleep quality
Strength training is shown to improve sleep quality. (Sleep rules all, so this point alone should get every woman flocking to the weights room). A good night’s sleep helps to improve immune function, body composition, mood, memory, ability to deal with stress, energy and positive emotional wellbeing.
Improves Bone Density
Women are at greater risk of developing osteoporosis, where bones become brittle and fragile due to a rapid decline in estrogen post menopause. In short, the more dense, strong bone you can build through your 20s, the higher the bone density is when bone loss starts occurring. Strength training is important from your 30s onwards to minimize bone loss, and maintain bone density, structure, strength and functional performance—and although it sounds unexciting, maintenance of these elements is a huge health win for women.
Studies show that resistance training of low-to-moderate intensity (less than 70% of one repetition maximum) can help to reduce anxiety. The sometimes overwhelming fear and worry associated with anxiety can be crippling and is estimated to affect 1 in 3 women. Findings suggest that strength training may even be beneficial in clinical management of anxiety.
Healthy metabolism and muscle mass
As we age, there is a natural decline in muscle mass and metabolism plus an associated weight gain after our late 20s. Although regular and consistent strength training hasn’t been proven to increase your metabolism as you age, it has been shown to help maintain metabolism and muscle mass which is of huge benefit.
Enhances quality of life, confidence and self-belief
Improved physical and emotional health means that strength training naturally enhances quality of life. Being able to move better without restriction or feeling “weak” may sound trivial however it is empowering and very useful. Being able to open jars for yourself, move furniture or lift that heavy bag into an overhead locker, for example, brings a sense of independence, the ability to do things for yourself in everyday life. Physiologically, building and maintaining muscle mass is associated with better posture and movement resulting in greater mobility and a reduction of injury and falls.
So, whether you’re 20 or 60, the best time to start strength training is now. With a host of benefits for your physical and emotional health, it’s worth committing to regularly lifting weights. Put the time aside to learn proper technique, be patient and build your confidence because this habit is something you should be sticking to for life. By training 2-3 times per week you can enjoy the immediate boosts in mood, energy and sleep quality while knowing that in the long term you will be a happier, more confident, stronger woman.