The benefits of strength training for women include increasing physical strength, losing body fat, decreasing the risk of osteoporosis and reducing the risk of injury, back pain and arthritis. It can also decrease women's risk of diabetes and heart disease and improve their overall mood. Research overwhelmingly shows that strength training for women provides a host of physical and emotional benefits, but a majority of active women still opt for cardiovascular training rather than weight lifting.
Many researchers believe strength training can benefit women even more than it benefits men, because men have the advantage of producing large amounts of testosterone, a hormone that helps maintain strong muscles. Strength training for women helps to counteract their relatively low rate of testosterone production. Women also have the added disadvantage of having less time in which to grow, with a woman's bones being completely formed by the time they're 18, while men can continue to grow until they're 21. This shorter period for growth limits the amount of muscle space that a woman has. Strength training maximizes the use of this space, providing several health benefits.
The two primary benefits of strength training for women is gaining physical strength and losing body fat. Increasing physical strength can make daily tasks easier and reduce the risk of physical injury. Research indicates that even limited weight training can increase a woman’s strength by up to 50 percent, making even chores such as laundry easier. Research also shows that strength training for women can cut more than 3 pounds (1.4 kg) of body fat for every 2 pounds (0.9 kg) of muscle gained. This not only can improve a woman’s overall health, but her physical appearance, as well.
Strength training for women has numerous long-term health benefits, including increasing a woman’s spinal bone mineral density by more than 13 percent, which significantly decreases her risk of osteoporosis. Building strong muscles can also reinforce the joints in a woman’s body, which can alleviate back pain and ease the pain of arthritis. Strength training for women has also been shown to improve overall cardiovascular health, including lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. Research also indicates that weight training can help the body process sugar, which significantly reduces the risk of developing diabetes.
While the physical health benefits of strength training for women are vast, there is also an emotional benefit. Studies have shown that as little as 10 weeks of strength training for women reduced clinical depression better than counseling. Women who strength train also report that they feel more confident and sure of themselves when they participate in strength training, which is an important factor in fighting depression.
Studies have shown that strength training for women can have benefits at any age, even into the late 80s. While moderate strength training can be accomplished in the privacy of one’s own home, doctors recommend that serious training be conducted under the supervision of a professional. This will guarantee the best physical results and maximize all of the health benefits associated with weight training.