Thursday, February 17, 2011

Muscle Is A Girl's Best-Friend

Excerpt from
There are literally hundreds of studies published each year expounding on the payoffs of resistance training. Researcher William Kraemer, PhD, a professor of kinesiology at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, has authored dozens touting the benefits for women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. Some of the benefits, like improving muscle tone, bone density, athletic performance, and strength (about 30 to 50 percent more after three to six months of training), are obvious. But there are a few surprises: Resistance training helps women fight the aging process by maintaining lean muscle tissue. Women who regularly lift weights have better self-esteem and get sick less often. Others have found weight training improves the way the body processes sugar, reducing the risk of diabetes.
For women who want to lose weight or prevent weight gain (and most of us fall into one camp or the other), strength training is key: In our mid-30s, we begin to lose 5 to 10 percent of muscle strength each decade. Since muscle burns an estimated three times more calories than fat, adding two to four pounds of muscle can translate into an extra 100 calories burned each day. A high-intensity strength routine has been shown to bump metabolism by 20 percent for several hours post-workout.
Couple weight training with cardio and the benefits are exponential. One study found that women who did 25 minutes of step classes plus a total-body resistance routine for 12 weeks significantly reduced their resting heart rate, body-fat percentage, and blood pressure, and increased their strength and endurance significantly more than those who only did aerobics.
Finally, there's the reality that when you have more strength, many of the daily demands of life -- from picking up a child to carrying armloads of groceries -- are simply easier. It's one reason many trainers today emphasize "functional fitness." "It's not just about isolating one muscle, like your biceps or abs," explains Joan Pagano, women's fitness-expert spokesperson for the IDEA Health and Fitness Association and author of Strength Training for Women. "In real life, your body acts as a whole unit, engaging multiple muscles simultaneously."
Be on the lookout for my functional fitness video series to follow! 

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