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Natural Awakenings Boston

The Benefits of Strength Training for Women

Sep 28, 2012 09:23PM ● By By Lana Lemeshov

While most women know that aerobic activity is essential to good health, many mistakenly think that strength training is primarily for building large muscles. In fact, lifting weights delivers benefits that cardio alone does not, and research shows that just two strength training sessions a week can burn fat, sculpt muscles, tone the body and increase energy. Here are several reasons to add strength training to any fitness regimen:

Burn more calories, lose body fat

It takes more energy (calories) for the body to maintain muscle cells. By lifting weights, women can boost their metabolism and turn the body into a more efficient fat-burning machine, even while at rest.

Maintain muscle and look better

Research shows that women lose an average of 22 percent of their total muscle mass between the ages of 30 and 70. Over time, that muscle void is often filled with fat. Since one pound of fat takes up 18 percent more space in the body than one pound of muscle, maintaining muscle mass results in a leaner shape.

Build stronger bones

Lifting weights can be the best defense against osteoporosis, a disease affecting 10 million Americans, 80 percent of which are women, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Post-menopausal women can lose between 1 and 2 percent of their bone mass annually.

Resistance training helps to increase bone density, reducing the risk of fracture and the likelihood of developing osteoporosis.

A healthier heart

Strength training can improve cardiovascular health by lowering LDL ("bad") cholesterol, increasing HDL ("good") cholesterol and lowering blood pressure. The risk of developing heart disease is lower when the body is leaner.

Boost the brain

According to a recent study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, when mentally stimulating activities like using a computer were combined with exercise such as cardio and strength training, it helped to protect brain functioning in older adults. Evidently, it’s the combination of these activities that’s most effective in decreasing the risk of memory loss.

Be happier and less stressed

Weight training can also induce pleasure by releasing endorphins, the “feel good” chemical in the brain. A recent study showed that people who did three strength workouts a week reported an 18 percent drop in depression after 10 weeks.

Reduce the risk of diabetes

Lifting weights can improve the way the body processes sugar, and this can help to prevent diabetes. Also, extended periods of strength training can improve the control of blood sugar as effectively as diabetes mediation. Research indicates that weight training can increase glucose utilization in the body by 23 percent in four months.

Finally, strength training increases flexibility and balance, reducing the likelihood of falls.

Lana Lemeshov is the owner of Koko FitClub, located at 39 Harvard Street in Brookline Village and 77 Spring Street (Shaw’s Plaza) in West Roxbury. For more information call 617-566-5656 (Brookline) or 617-325-4800 (West Roxbury) or visit KokoFitClub.com to schedule a free training session.

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