The last time I visited my doctor, we discussed what I was doing for physical activity. She said I was in overall health, and my eating habits sounded great. We’ve discussed a healthy diet plenty of times, especially after finding out that I had high cholesterol. But, she had never before discussed physical activity she’d recommend for women.
She proceeded to tell me that women need to get 30 minutes of weight training at least 6 days a week. She also recommended I start some yoga and Pilates for strength and balance, which is important for women as they age. Women should focus on strength training because women tend to lose muscle faster than men as they age. Men typically have more muscle, and women need to make sure they don’t lose the muscle they have.
What are the benefits of strength training?
Gaining muscle isn’t just about looking leaner and more fit. Making sure our bodies are strong has much more to do with appearance alone. It’s definitely not just important for women, either.
Muscle increases your metabolism.
So my first point might seem like it is appearance related. But we can’t ignore the fact that muscle helps to burn calories! This can be important for those interested in weight loss. But for me… I translate ‘more calories’ into ‘I can eat more food!’
More muscle brings better overall health.
The percent muscle in a human body has been linked to reduced risks of several chronic illnesses and conditions. For example, muscle helps to decrease the risk of diabetes. Skeletal muscle will also help increase bone mineral content and mineral density reducing risk of osteoporosis.
Higher percent of muscle can lead to increased lifespan.
Studies have also been conducted to correlate body composition and risk of death at an older age. This study emphases that people should not focus so much on weight of body mass composition (BMI), but on body composition. A healthier focus would be to focus on maximizing and maintaining muscle mass.
But THAT is an excellent message, right?
‘Skinny’ is so often the desired appearance these days. Even the ‘fitspiration’ we see makes us associate a super lean, muscular body as being the epitome of health. But, maybe that isn’t always true. A person doesn’t need to be super lean (or super skinny) to be healthy! They certainly could be, but it’s not the definition.