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5 Reasons you need to start lifting weights

When it comes to working out, many women skip the weights and go straight to cardio with hopes to lose weight without “bulking up.” However, weights don’t just make you strong. Strength training offers many added benefits that you won’t get from a treadmill alone.

1. Loss of fat

Many women stop lifting weights when they see the number on the scale begin to rise, upset that they have gained weight. However, people who lift weights are often leaner than those who don’t, and there is a very good reason for this. Individuals who have more muscle have a higher metabolic rate. This means they burn more calories throughout the day (while not exercising) than those with less muscle, helping them to lose more fat. Strength training can increase a person’s metabolic rate by as much as 15 per cent.

2. Heart health and diabetes prevention

It has been proven that leaner individuals have a lower risk of developing heart disease. One study showed that heart disease patients gained aeorbic capacity on top of strength when lifting weights three times a week during their rehabilitation program. Strength training is now a recommended part of heart disease prevention and rehabilitation. A similar study done with diabetic patients showed improved glucose control comparable to taking diabetes medication in the group that made strength training part of their lifestyle for 16 weeks. This proves that not only can lifting weights help an individual lose fat, but it can also help prevent disease.

3. Prevention of osteoporosis

Women are at risk for osteoporosis, as they can lose 1 to 2 per cent of bone mass every year after menopause. What you might not know is that you could be at greater risk if your muscles are weak. Strength training can actually increase bone density and reduce your risk of fractures without the addition of taking a pill. By starting strength training before menopause, you may be reducing your risk of problems later on by adding bone mass before the loss begins.

4. Pain and arthritis relief

Not only does strength training improve arthritis pain (both osteo and rheumatoid arthritis), but it can also decrease disability. Most of the time the results from strength training are better than any medication offered. One study of individuals with knee osteoarthritis showed an astounding 43 per cent decrease in pain over a 16-week strength-training program. Similar results can occur with back pain. By building strength in the supporting back muscles, less stress and tension are placed on the joints of the back, thus decreasing pain.

5. Depression

A strength-training routine or program should be initiated for all individuals suffering from depression. Weightlifting alone can provide improvements similar to medication in mild to moderate depression. Many people who suffer from depression suffer from insomnia as well. Strength training can help a person fall asleep more quickly, wake less often during the night and get a more restful sleep. Self-esteem was also shown to increase with the addition of strength training.

Strength is not something women should fear. Rather, it is something one should strive for. So next time you’re at the gym, pick up the weights — you’re sure to gain more than just muscle.

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