Men outnumber women in the weights area of most gyms. But that could soon change, because strength training is key to women’s overall health, fitness and well-being.
In fact, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends performing a strength-training program a minimum of two non consecutive days a week, with one set of eight to 12 repetitions for healthy adults.
Whether you’re lifting weights at home or using weight machines at the gym, here are just a few reasons why it’s important to lift.
It helps build strong bones. As you age, your bones become weaker and more prone to fractures. Regular strength training increases bone density and prevents osteoporosis. How? Because when bone feels the pull from muscles, it stimulates bone growth.
It increases your calorie burn. You may think that cardio exercises are the best way to lose weight. But weight-lifting can help too: The more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn.
It gives benefits that cardio can’t. Whole-body fitness isn’t attained by cardio alone. With strength training, you can focus on certain areas and get a more balanced appearance. (Just dont skip cardio completely as it helps maintain a healthy heart.)
It makes you appear thinner. Muscle takes up less room than fat. So if you increase your muscle, you’ll look slimmer and control your weight more easily.
It reduces symptoms and signs of chronic conditions. Strength training helps manage health conditions like arthritis, obesity, diabetes, back pain and heart disease.
It helps you tire less easily. You’ll raise your stamina as you get stronger.
It boosts your balance. Your increased leg, hip and core strength from weight training will promote balance and mobility, helping prevent falls.
It improves your attention span. According to the Mayo Clinic, some research says that older adults can sharpen their focus if they regularly do strength training.
It betters your joints and posture. Women are prone to joint issues as they age. Increasing your muscle strength supports your joints and improves your posture.
It leaves you happier and less stressed. When you exercise, your brain releases chemicals that boost your mood and ones that help you handle and cope with stress better.
It helps you eat better. Exercising helps your brain stick with a diet plan. It makes sense; you likely won’t want to sabotage all those hours working out by diving into a bag of chips or a bowl of ice cream.
Want to start weight-lifting but dont know where to begin? To get stronger, do fewer repetitions with heavier weights. To get better endurance, do more repetitions and lighter weights, says the American Council on Exercise.
Consider meeting with a certified personal fitness trainer who can create a safe, effective and personalized training program that will work all the major muscle groups and teach you about proper form.
You RSVP to a party. You give a gift when you attend a wedding. Various life situations are associated with certain etiquette — and the same goes for the gym. Here are a few unwritten rules to follow when you work up a sweat.
Put down the smartphone. Don’t distract others by talking on the phone while you’re on the workout floor (which many gyms forbid) or texting (which can be dangerous if you bump into someone as you absent-mindedly type).
Share equipment (also known as working in.) If you’re resting between your two sets of 10 dumbbell reps, let someone else do some sets. And give her some space so she doesnt feel crowded or claustrophobic.
Replace equipment. If you’ve taken some dumbbells or maybe a step out for a class, put the pieces back properly (unless someone asks to use the equipment after you).
Dont block the mirror. Some people like and need to see themselves as they work out. Avoid obstructing their view.
Wipe down equipment when youre done. The person next in line will thank you for it.
Clean up after yourself. Toss used towels in the proper bins. Recycle or return newspapers and magazines.