Why Women Should Lift Weights

June 19, 2017

My advice to women (and men), if you haven’t already, why not consider lifting weights as part of your fitness routine. It is even more important as you grow older. Let’s face it, it is an uphill battle as we age but it is never too late to start.

I happen to be one of the lucky females who has always enjoyed muscle strengthening activities from dumbbells to barbells to resistance equipment.

I attend a personal trainer twice a week, not because it is trendy, purely because he is the expert who has the ability to push me in a controlled environment. We work my routine around previous sporting injuries acquired from years of participating in many sports. Exercise is a high priority and I love my weights.

Health and fitness gurus constantly reinforce the importance of lifting weights as a preventative measure. Only this week I read an article in a local newspaper written by Madura McCormack on how heavy lifting will boost bone health. It specifically referred to women’s health and the prevention of osteoporosis through heavy lifting and resistance training.

Queensland’s Griffith University completed a word first study and found if “women prescribed a regiment of heavy resistance training they had better bone mass than those who did low-intensity exercise”.

‘The Lifting Intervention for Training Muscle and Osteoporosis Rehabilitation’ research project trialled two groups of women with low bone mass. One group did two weekly sessions of bone-targeted impact loading.

The other group did home-based low intensity workout.

It was found the women who did the impact loading had better bone density and straighter backs than the home workout group. Within eight months of the trial they already found a significant difference between the two groups. The recommendation was women (and men) do muscle strengthening at least two days each week. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, unfortunately this is not the case for a large percentage of people.

Like many good things in life, the younger you begin the better the outcome, however do not let this be a deterrent as it is never too late to begin. There are many seniors and retirees who have changed their outlook to life and improved their exercise regime. An inspiration not to give up as their life span shortens.

Given the recent statistics to support women’s health by lifting weights here are a few concepts to consider:

The challenges for first time weight lifters:

  • get your head around the fact that you will not, and I stress, NOT, build up huge muscles. It is a known fact that “women don’t have the hormone profile” as men do
  • begin with moderate weights and choose how far to push yourself to prevent strains
  • choose weights that are heavy enough for resistance
  • you will have sore muscles to begin with, that’s a good thing
  • build up to heavier weights e.g. from 2kg dumb bells in each hand up to 7-9kg
  • if you can afford it, find a personal trainer, one who focuses on your individual needs
  • alternatively,local community health & fitness sessions are available, many suitable for seniors
  • a surprise outcome on rapid improvement, mentally and physically
  • better late than never

On a personal note, I witnessed my mother suffer from osteoarthritis as she progressed into her seventies although she never let it stop her from doing physical work around a large property. Perhaps weight training may have helped but it ‘wasn’t what women did’ in those days. I will always remember my father’s emphasis on the need to ‘puff every day’. He was a great believer to keep strong and maintain regular physical exercise and that included mental stimulation. He would complete a cross word at breakfast every day. Some of the old ways were the best ways but not always for women.

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