Let’s Get Physical! Physical!
Getting into physical fitness is all the rage these days, and that’s as it should be. This isn’t to alienate anyone who isn’t, yet, but more to affirm the effort and dedication of those who are – while we’ve always on some level known how important physical fitness is, and while it’s always been a part of our lives, it’s never been as popular as it is now. Indeed this popularity is undeniable, as people have truly made it part of their day-to-day lives. And why shouldn’t they? Modern life is also more stressful than ever, and the toughness and endurance built up through exercise – not to mention the many other psychological and physiological benefits – are not to be underestimated.
Women and Physical Fitness
In fitness for women, different people will prefer different workouts, usually depending on their existing skill and fitness levels as well as what they feel will provide the development and strengthening that they actually need most. Some make the mistake of thinking that all workouts are essentially interchangeable and just take effort, which rarely ends well. Others, on the other hand, tend to get mired in thinking that only one type of workout is for them – usually aided along by these types of workouts getting pigeonholed into that role in various pop culture depictions, among other sources – and thus never want to branch out.
For instance, women tend to be associated with exercises that don’t come across as very physically demanding, such as yoga, aerobics, and jogging. Conversely, the idea of women lifting weights seems incongruous to some, who might be willing to accept certain outliers like those veiny bodybuilder-type women you see in competitions but not much else. Joke’s on them, though, because there are plenty of benefits for women who lift weights – benefits that might otherwise go unfelt if this were not given a chance.
Benefits of Weight Lifting for Women
1. Bye, Belly Fat
Just like anybody else, women gain weight, with the average American woman on track to gain about 1-2 pounds a year. Studies in fitness for women specifically a study of obese and overweight women revealed that two sessions of weight lifting in strength training in workout sessions helped reduce belly fat considerably over the course of a 16-week period, all without a change in diet (imagine what more could be accomplished with dietary changes as well). Weight training tends to have a greater effect (than, say, aerobics) on waist circumference in general even for other people of other body types, as at least one other study shows.
Varying up the workouts on your lineup and including some weight lifting can make weight loss overall even more effective – especially since muscle (built up through means like weight lifting) requires energy for maintenance, which means you can burn calories at rest. A 12-week study showed a 16% decrease in body fat percentage for women who worked out thrice a week, which is a fairly encouraging set of results.
2. Build Curves
Anyone who’s simply dieted, jogged and treadmilled their way down a few pounds might have noticed a flatter bottom afterwards. This is a natural outcome of the process, especially since the muscles in the area didn’t really get built up enough to create a shape after the fat left. Cardio is a seriously crucial pursuit, so don’t drop it, but you can’t rely on it to create a form for you either. You’ll need to sculpt by building wider shoulders, shapely glutes, and firm waist with not just one, but a variety of weights-based exercises.
3. Fear Not the Bulk
One of the foremost reasons people will try to discourage you from weight lifting is that you might turn into a lumpy mass by the end of it, especially given what male weight lifters and those in bodybuilding competitions tend to turn into after their own rounds of sculpting. First off, ballooning like that is partly a function of testosterone – and with testosterone levels typically 1/15 those of males, a woman simply won’t build up that much bulk (without steroids of the anabolic persuasion at least).
Some others will say “but what if the muscle turns into fat?” which means they should go back to science class – that’s like saying “what if bone turns into muscle?” Lifting burns calories, simple as that. Fitness for women indeed involves not really bulking up but just being healthy in the first place.
4. Keep Osteoporosis Away
While menopause typically hits at around age 51, it can come in earlier at 45. This results in, among other things, lower estrogen levels, which in turn can impact bone density negatively by reducing estrogen’s protective effect on bones. As such, bone loss can be quite rapid for menopausal females, usually taking the form of osteoporosis. Cardio is excellent for keeping the heart at optimum efficiency, but the American College of Sports Medicine recommends lifting weights 2-3 times a week in order to preserve the health of your bones. Being less prone to OA is indeed the right way towards fitness for women.
5. Feel Like A Badass
There’s little argument about how empowering weight lifting can be. On the literal level, it has you lifting heavy objects and managing bigger and bigger challenges over time. On a higher level, it raises your confidence and simply makes you feel better about yourself. There’s something uniquely driving about feeling your body can accomplish such great things, and feeling that energy and potential stored in your muscles simply makes you feel more alive. Not to get too trapped in feel-good land, the point can be made that you can parlay this improved capability into better performance in other fields like running and other cardio workouts. There’s no downside, and the benefits go beyond just being able to life heavy objects.
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