Why Strength Training is Important for Women
Canadians are encouraged to aim for 150 minutes of exercise each week. That’s 30 minutes, 5 days a week. I know that many find this number difficult to achieve and struggle with finding time to exercise. I see many of my clients incorporating walking, running, hiking and other cardiovascular activities into their day. This is excellent! One important element to also consider is strength training. This form of exercise has a number of health benefits and shouldn’t be overlooked. Some benefits of include:
- increased bone density & muscle tone
- increased metabolism and after burn
- improved posture
- improved strength, balance, muscle endurance, coordination and stability
- boosts immune system and mood
- prevention of muscle imbalances/weaknesses
- reduction of injuries
- improves motor patterns and optimizes function
Often times, women feel that strength training will give them big muscles. Women come to me and tell me they don’t want to get bulky, just toned. Ladies, this is a huge myth! It is very difficult for women to get bulky and in fact, strength training builds muscle, muscle is dense and takes up less space than fat. More muscle = a leaner look. Just take a look at this picture, comparing five pounds of muscle to five pounds of fat. Which one takes up less space?
So, what is strength training? Do you have to be in a gym for hours at a time? No! Strength training includes:
- Body weight exercises like push ups, squats and planks
- Band exercises like rows and extensions
- Ball exercises
Where to start? If possible, find out what’s weak/tight/imbalanced from an educated professional. Ensure your strength workout is balanced and includes hip, core and scapular stabilization work. It doesn’t take much. A few squats, push ups and planks can go a long way. Even 10 minutes twice a week can have an impact. Try sneaking in a few reps after a walk, when you wake up or when brushing your teeth (squats and single leg balances work well here).
Sarah is a Registered Kinesiologist, Certified Exercise Physiologist, NeuroKinetic Therapy Practitioner, Group Fitness Instructor and co-owner of Continuum Fitness in Westboro. She studies Human Kinetics at the University of Ottawa and graduated with honours with a minor in Biology. Sarah is a former international fitness competitor and was fortunate to represent Canada at the Ms Fitness Worls competition four times. Sarah enjoys spending time with her partner and two girls.