On Your Health

Check back to the INTEGRIS On Your Health blog for the latest health and wellness information for all Oklahomans, published three times a week.

The Benefits of Weightlifting for Women

07/11/2018

While many fitness programs marketed to women emphasize the importance of cardio for weight loss, resistance/strength training (aka weightlifting) is actually more beneficial for overall health. Strength training is essential to long-term wellness. Because some of its benefits aren't found in other forms of exercise, experts recommend women participate in both cardio and strength training regularly. 

9 health benefits of weightlifting for women

Strength training is often thought of as a men’s fitness regimen, but the benefits are incredible for women, too!

  1. Increases bone density – Bone density declines as women age, especially following menopause. Weight-bearing exercise puts stress on the bones — not too much stress, but enough to cause the bone to strengthen. This can prevent osteoporosis, which affects 10 million Americans. Women are particularly prone to osteoporosis as they age, so it’s even more important for aging women.
  2. Increases muscle mass – Muscle is essential to human movement, so maintaining muscle mass as you age can help prevent injury, improve range of motion and aid in daily functions like walking up the stairs. While some women fear that strength training will make them look “manly,” it won’t actually cause you to bulk up. It will simply increase muscle mass and improve body composition.
  3. Helps with weight loss – Contrary to common belief, strength training can help with weight loss. Like cardio, strength training burns calories, which can help you achieve a caloric deficit. Strength training also increases excess post-oxygen consumption (EPOC), which occurs when the body continues to burn excess calories for hours after exercise.
  4. Better quality of sleepRecent studies have shown those who participate in resistance training experience better, uninterrupted sleep. Improved sleep can help keep your overall wellness in alignment, especially as you age.
  5. Increases energy – Exercise causes the body to release endorphins, which boost mood and energy. However, long bouts of cardiovascular exercise can deplete the body’s energy stores. Strength training, on the other hand, can be completed in 30 to 60 minutes, leaving you with more energy to power through the day.
  6. Better functional strength – Women need strength to get through the day. Whether it’s a long day at the office, carrying toddlers around, cutting the grass, or all of the above, you need functional strength to accomplish everything that needs to get done in a day. Resistance training improves strength in key areas like the core, legs, lower back and upper body.
  7. Improves heart health – According to the Mayo Clinic, heart disease is the leading cause of death for women. Exercising regularly can reduce the risk of heart disease in women. Mayo Clinic recommends doing strength training exercises at least two days per week to improve heart health.
  8. Lowers stress levels – Cardio exercise has been a well-known source of stress relief for decades. However, research shows resistance training can also help with stress reduction. According to the American Psychological Association, women are more likely to report physical symptoms of stress than men, such as headaches and upset stomach. Stress reduction can not only improve your mental state, but also your overall physical wellness.
  9. Boosts confidence – It’s no secret the media has a lot of opinions on what the female body should look like. While many cardio fitness regimens focus on aesthetic goals, strength training focuses on functional goals, such as increasing weight or speed. This shift in focus has been linked to improved body image in women — plus the aesthetic changes tend to happen anyway, even if they aren’t the main goal.

woman lifting with barbell

Tips for getting started

If you’ve never tried strength training before, walking into a weight room can be intimidating. You can also injure yourself if you aren’t sure of proper form. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

Hire a trainer — While trainers can be pricey, working with a trainer (even just a few times) can help you understand proper form, improve the muscle-mind connection and learn how to structure a workout properly. This will give you the confidence to continue working out on your own, knowing that your workouts are safe and effective.

Get a workout buddy — If the gym feels intimidating at first, bring a friend, which can make exercise more fun and less scary. A buddy can also hold you accountable to your fitness goals.

Start slow — A new workout plan is exciting, but don’t get carried away. Strength training places stress on the muscles and joints. Over-training can cause fatigue, injury or lack of interest over time. Start with two strength training workouts per week and increase as you feel comfortable.

Adjust nutrition — Food fuels the body to perform and recover both in and out of the gym. You may need to adjust your nutrition to support your workouts. Talk to a registered dietitian to learn more.

Local strength training opportunities in OKC

Ready to start strength training but not sure where to go? There are a variety of training facilities in the Oklahoma City metro that offer classes, personal training and more!

(em)POWERHOUSE Gym

This gym is owned and operated by coach Stephanie Fowler, who overcame childhood obesity and now encourages women to be strong. Learn more about (em)POWERHOUSE Gym and Fowler’s boot camp classes in this blog post.

Fit for Her OKC

A 24/7 women’s exercise facility, Fit for Her is designed for women of all ages to feel more comfortable in the gym. Equipped with a variety of cardio and strength training equipment, this gym promotes wellness for women and encourages women to try weight training. Visit the website to learn more.

YMCA Healthy Living Center INTEGRIS

INTEGRIS’ YMCA Health Living Center offers classes and personal training for people of all ages to develop strength, endurance and better overall fitness. They offer boot camps and muscle conditioning. To learn more, check out the class schedule.

At INTEGRIS, we are passionate about providing women with comprehensive care throughout their lifetime, including fertility, labor and delivery, pediatrics, mammography, orthopedics, heart health and everything in between. Learn more about our Women’s Health Services to see how we can help.

Subscribe to the INTEGRIS On Your Health blog

Subscribe for weekly emails full of useful and interesting Oklahoma-centric health and wellness info, from the doctors and health experts at INTEGRIS.

Women's Health Services

Learn how a $50 HeartScan could save your life.

On Your Health