10 reasons women should start lifting weights today
If you dream of a toned, fit bikini body, increased energy levels, a faster metabolism and all-together happier outlook on life, did you ever stop and think about hitting the weights? If you're worried about bulking up, you're not alone. Whilst women (and men) of all ages can benefit from strength training – you don't have to be aiming for 20-inch biceps – only 20% of women incorporate lifting weights into their workout twice or more a week. Yet hitting the weights can help reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer, strengthen your bones and leave you feeling happier – what's not to like? We think it's about time women of all ages tried weight training, so we've come up with 10 reasons to start today. Give it a go!
#1. Burn more fat
Repeat after me, “Cardio is not the be-all and end-all to busting belly fat.” In fact, you'll lose 40% more fat if you regularly pump iron. Dieters who don't lift weights lose 75% of their weight from fat and 25% from muscle. You don't want to lose this much muscle as you'll appear less toned, and you're also more likely to put the weight back on.
#2. Burn more calories
After a strength workout, energy is needed by your muscles to repair fibres. Whilst that doesn't mean it's an excuse to eat a pack of Sainsbury's triple-chocolate cookies, it does mean that lifting weights actually increases the number of calories you're burning.
Researchers have discovered that lifting weights can raise your metabolism for up to 39 hours after lifting – again, not an excuse for a binge, but well worth bearing in mind. A circuit of eight moves (around eight minutes of lifting) can burn 159 to 231 calories, about the same as a 10mph eight minute run.
#3. Kick stress in the balls
Stress can get to us all, but take up lifting weights and you'll learn to keep a cool head under pressure. The fitter you are, the lower your levels of stress hormones – pretty neat, huh? Your blood pressure levels also return to normal far quicker, the more muscle you have.
#4. Get stronger bones
Getting older causes bones to deteriorate, which could lead to osteoporosis in old age. Getting plenty of calcium from dairy products can help, but a recent study discovered that 16 weeks of resistance training can increase your hip bone density and levels of osteocalcin in your blood (which boosts bone growth) by almost 20%.
#5. Enjoy better fitting clothes
Did you know that between 30 and 50 years of ages, you could lose around 10% of your body's muscle, which is likely to be replaced by fat? A pound of fat takes up around 18% more space than a pound of muscle, so your waist size is likely to increase. Strength training can bust belly fat and help whittle your waist.
#6. Enjoy a healthier diet
Exercise and a healthy diet go hand in hand; in fact, exercise can make it easier for you to stick to a diet plan. In a study of 169 overweight adults, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh discovered that those who didn't exercise for three hours a week regularly ate more than 1,500 calories a day. The more you train, the more likely you are to enjoy an avocado salad rather than a cheeky Chinese takeaway.
#7. Healthier heart
Your diastolic blood pressure can be decreased by completing just three body weight workouts a week for a two month period. Think of it this way – that decreases your risk of heart attack by 15% and risk of stroke by 40%.
#8. Be smarter
Hey, we're not promising you'll be the next Albert Einstein, but training your muscles can help to strengthen your mind. Six months of resistance training can enhance not only your short and long term memory, it can also improve your attention span and verbal reasoning skills.
#9. Live a longer life
We know exercise is good for us, but now researchers have discovered that body strength is linked to a lower risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Being physically strong in middle age increases your chances of living to the age of 85 without developing a major disease.
#10. Increased productivity
That lunchtime workout could be way more beneficial to your productivity than you realise! Lifting weights can increase productivity on training days by 15%. That means you'll squeeze more work into your eight hours, which will help you to feel less stressed. Less stressed employees are happier at work.