By: Jaclyn Webber ’17, University of Maryland Health Center, HEALTHWorks Peer Educator
Once again, I walk into the Ritchie Coliseum weight lifting room and the smell of body odor and sweat fills my nostrils. Every machine and every dumbbell is taken by a ripped fraternity brother, gritting their teeth and grunting in pain.
I see the fear on some peoples’ faces as they pass the weight lifting room, afraid of walking in to a room full of men—who might potentially be judging them for lifting smaller amounts of weight . . .
Big deal. The truth is some people just shouldn’t be lifting as much weight as a large, adult man who is double their size in body weight—especially women.
Women do not get bulky after lifting weights because girls have one-tenth the testosterone of a guy and women tend not to build muscle mass as quickly as men.
Despite the fact that our muscles don’t grow rapidly, lifting weights is one of the best ways a woman can take care of her body.
If you’re one of those girls jumping right onto the treadmill and avoiding any chance of contact with a barbell, here are 5 reasons you should consider hitting up the weigh lifting room.
5 Reasons Why Women Should Use the Weight Room
- Lose fat more efficiently. One of the benefits of strength training is the ability to burn fat during and after workouts. Strength training jumpstarts your metabolism to burn more calories, lose fat, and tone your body – even quicker than cardio which doesn’t keep your metabolism as revved up once your workout session is over. Most women who incorporate lifting into their workouts have less overall body fat than women who do not. Having lower body fat leads to decreases in the chances of developing diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Now, this isn’t to say that cardio doesn’t have plenty health benefits associated with it (it does!); however, strength training’s effects are pretty stellar, too. (Source)
- Stress less. You’ve most likely been told that exercising can help lower stress levels but have you ever heard that strength training can help you manage your stress as well? Many researchers have found that people (especially women) who lift weights frequently (2-3 times per week) were better able to manage stressful situations and were less likely to react harshly to aversive stimuli. (Source) Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, pick up some weights to bring the stress back down.
- Sleep longer and deeper. A study published by the International SportMed Journal stated that morning strength training greatly improved the quality of peoples’ sleep and the overall time spent sleeping throughout the night. Lifting weights has shown to help you fall asleep faster at night and help you stay asleep longer throughout the night. (Source)
- Improve your heart health. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning has found that people who lifted weights are less likely to have heart disease risk factors such as a large waist circumference, high triglycerides, elevated blood pressure, and elevated glucose levels. (Source) The American Heart Association has approved strength training as an effective form of exercise for those at risk for heart disease. (Source) It’s safe to say that pumping iron makes a happy, pumping heart!
- Improve your bone health. Aging puts people at risk for losing bone density and muscle mass. Women who are postmenopausal are at an even greater risk for osteoporosis, because the body is no longer secreting estrogen. The good news is that the earlier women begin to lift weights, the more resilient their bodies will be to the negative affects of aging on bone loss. Building strength and muscle at a younger age helps prevent the onset of bone loss diseases and maintain bone density later in life.
So, if I didn’t get my message across . . .
Whether your goal is to look better, get in shape, feel healthier, or be more confident, lifting weights can put you on a path for success.
It doesn’t matter if you’re the only girl in the weight lifting room at the gym; let that be a reason to pat yourself on the back and push yourself even farther.
Lift 1 pound, 10 pounds, or 100 pounds, no matter what, your body will thank you for the benefits and your future self will thank you for the strong, healthy body you’ve created.