Don’t be Afraid of the “Weight”

I’m so happy to hear from the women who have been reaching out to me about their newly inspired fitness life. The most recent encounter was actually with my sister, who has been waking up at 5am a few days per week to attend a boot camp class that she’s really enjoying. I was happy to hear that because becoming more physically active has a lot to do with finding a type of exercise that you enjoy doing.

In my sister’s case, she hates cardio, but loves the boot camp because it’s sporadic and non-routine. I, on the other hand, can get on the treadmill and have fun running for hours. However, as I explained to my sister, that boot camp is likely overall better for physical health and fitness because studies have shown that as between cardio and strength training, experts believe that strength training is more important. Here are some reasons why:

1. Strength training is the best way to change the shape of your body. With proper form and consistency, it allows you to actually sculpt the shape of your body. Often people report seeing much better results from strength training than they see with just cardio. For those of you who are obsessed with the number on the scale, please be aware that as you increase strength training, it is very likely that the number on the scale will also increase. This is why it is more sensible to measure your body fat, than your body weight. In other words, your body fat could very well be going down while your body weight is going up.

2. Strength training is also beneficial for bone protection and prevention of diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis. Osteoporosis makes bones become more brittle as we age. By lifting weights we improve bone density, which slows down or prevents osteoporosis. Women in particular are more prone to this issue since we have smaller, more fragile bones than men. It has also been proven that women who do strength training have a Type 2 diabetes risk that is over 50% lower than women who do not.

3. Strength training builds your confidence, and mental strength is as important as physical strength. Lifting weights helps us to cope with personal and professional struggles and it is truly the only cost-effective drug-free way to do so.   There has not been a single challenge that I’ve faced that I don’t feel better about after I’ve had a chance to get to the gym to process and think about how I want to deal with it.

I encourage you to locate a copy of this very insightful Time Magazine special edition about exercise science to read more about the benefits of strength training. Until then, don’t be afraid of the “weight” !