Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Why Women Need to Lift Weights





Growing up, I had always participated in some type of sport. In the fall it was cross country, and, in the spring, it was track and field. Health and fitness were never something I had to worry about in high school because all I had to do was follow along with the workouts my coach gave me. Working out as a team pushed me to my physical limit and my times were seemingly faster because of it. It wasn’t until I came to college however, that it all changed.


 

Walking into the gym for the first time was easily the scariest freshman experience for me. The entire facility was massive and appeared to have a separate machine dedicated to every muscle imaginable. The main floor of the gym almost functioned like a middle school dance with women utilizing the aerobic machines on one side, and men groaning through the free weights on the other. For a while, I did what most new girls at the gym do and stuck to using strictly the elliptical and treadmill because that’s what I thought I was supposed to do. After doing this routine for about three months and not seeing any results, I started to get frustrated. What was I doing wrong? Well, apparently EVERYTHING.


 

For a year, I tended to shy away from strength training and lifting weights in general because I was afraid of turning into the female version of the Incredible Hulk. Apparently, I’m not the only one who fears this. In fact, just 20 percent of college-age women meet the aerobic and strength training recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [2]. These silly stigmas prevented me from achieving my fitness goals and reaping in the numerous benefits strength training actually provides.


 

Studies have shown that women who just lifted weights exclusively showed a reduced risk of type-two diabetes and cardiovascular disease [4]. It also increases bone density which allows us to perform our day-to-day activities without fear of injury [3]. Physically, while lifting weights can add muscle and shape, women will likely never transform into the Hulk because our testosterone levels in comparison to males are significantly less [1]. More recent evidence also shows that strength training can reduce our body mass index or BMI [3]. This improves how the body utilizes insulin, which can help regulate the body’s blood sugar levels, ensuring they don’t spike too low or too high. In addition to a lower BMI, women who lifted were more likely to follow a healthy diet and less likely to be a current smoker [4].


 

While I’m not suggesting to completely neglect aerobic exercise, maybe substitute a few days in your gym routine in favor of lifting weights. The most beneficial gym routines will encompass a mix of both cardio and strength. Aerobic exercise will help lose fat and lifting weights will replace that fat lost with muscle.

 


Addressing the stigma many females have (including myself) had about lifting weights is only part of the problem. Many gyms tend to advertise weights as a “male-only activity.” I remember at the gym I used to be a member of back home, there were posters on every part of the wall that showed the men lifting heavy weights while the posters of the women, showed them jumping rope or doing jumping jacks. Advertisements like these lead women to believe that strength training is something they shouldn’t be doing, leaving many to neglect it in their gym routines. The noise surrounding pop culture and media that advertise fad exercise trends based on very little evidence or the latest end-all-be-all exercise machine that just popped up on the market must be broken. Being transparent with consumers to recommend the best exercise routine based on an abundance of evidence as opposed to just one study can help build the trust, and health, of consumers.

 

 

 

 

 





Article originally published on my portfolio

 

 

 






Sources

[1] Barlow, Rich. “Women and Weight Lifting: It’s Good for You.” Boston University Today. March 6, 2013. Accessed March 12, 2019. http://www.bu.edu/today/2013/women-and-weight-lifting-its-good-for-you/

[2] Leisure-time physical activity. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dec. 2012, Accessed March 12, 2019. Table. www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhis/earlyrelease/earlyrelease201212_07.pdf.

[3] Oaklander, Mandy. “This is the Best Workout for Women.” TIME. December 28, 2016. Accessed March 12, 2019. http://time.com/4618826/strength-training-fitness-workout/?iid=sr-link1

[4] Shiroma, Eric, et al. Strength Training and the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease. Jan. 2016. Accessed March 12, 2019.https://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/2017/01000/Strength_Training_and_the_Risk_of_Type_2_Diabetes.5.aspx

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