Finally, beyond the wall of personal training offices, a voice is rising to advocate widespread approbation of women doing resistance-training, otherwise known as “lifting weights.” The merits for men have been held in esteem for a long time, but only recently has the voice for women started to reach out beyond the truly dedicated, to the Jane Qs of the world, where we are starting to see there is a life of fitness beyond cardio. To put this in context, “resistance training” is often defined as lifting weights, but could be the resistance of simple body weight, known as calisthenics, or the use of the bands and balls commonly found in gyms or onmedical equipmentwebsites. The short and long term benefits of weight training for women, include, but are in no way limited to, increased muscle and bone strength, increased metabolism, and overall improved self perception.
The obvious argument for increased muscle development associated with weight training immediately brings up association with the muscle-bound body-builder type, which is generally not the goal for the average person, regardless of gender. One key factor to consider about this concern is a hormone known as testosterone, critical in the growth of muscle tissue, and a predominantly male specific hormone. While women’s bodies do convert a small percentage of estrogen, a predominantly female hormone, into testosterone, the amount needed to truly bulk up is beyond anyone’s wildest imagination. The time it would take to build that much muscle would be a slow moving train coming down the track. When training for resistance, muscles not only grow stronger, but bones also increase in density, becoming stronger. These increases in strength for muscle and bone will be a part of a woman’s long term goal of staying active.
The increases in muscle strength contribute to increases in metabolism, which makes management of body composition and potential disorders easier. An efficient machine needs less repair and maintenance than one that runs inefficiently. This means that today’s weight lifting female is less likely to struggle with diabetes, hypertension, high blood pressure, cardio disorders, and even cancer. True, the treadmill is valuable to heart and lung strength, but overall level of fitness cannot be accomplished through cardio work alone. Cardio develops one system of the body, the system we use to draw oxygen from the air, to streamline it into our bloodstream. The stimulation from performing cardio has little to no effect on the strength and stabilization of the skeletal muscles we develop when performing resistance training.
That stabilization has both a physical and emotional application, in the form of self confidence, and of self perception. Self perception is arguably the most important perception for finding widespread success in this world. It is connected to how we relate to our families, our friends, and our jobs. It’s no secret that the confident people seize opportunities in life.
As we figure out that there is more to being healthy than just “being skinny,” or that skinny is not really a healthy goal by any stretch, we are starting to get a renewed and healthier perception of what a truly healthy adult could look like. A healthy self perception includes the understanding that muscles are not only a normal and beautiful part of all bodies, male or female, but essential for our long term preventative health maintenance program. This starts and ends with the cardio queens braving the world of resistance training, picking up the weights, and doing the push-ups, amongst many other exercises, and finding out just how truly awesome each of our bodies can be.
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