Category Archives: Fitness

The Weight Bench is Not Just for Men: Strength Training for Women

Strength training may be regularly thought of as a masculine activity. Weight benches are often occupied by men and when you think of weight rooms, you probably imagine a lot of guys hanging around working on their triceps, biceps, calves and quads.

However, weight training is certainly not just for men, and women can engage in this exercise and enjoy the various results. Whether in the gym or at home, women can start their own strength training routine that can help tone muscles, increase endurance, burn fat, and of course, enhance strength.

Why Strength Training

While many think of strength as having big muscles and the ability to lift tons of weight, it is actually much more than that. Strength is represented by your endurance, your ability to keep going both mentally and physically, your sense of purpose, and of course, the power of your muscles and how much you can lift. Weight is equivalent to growth, meaning that the more you practice, the more you can take on, and the better you become.

For women, strength training is a skill of freedom, power, safety, and control. It gives them a sense of independence and allows them to better themselves both mentally and physically. Strength training is also the fastest way to improve your muscles and your physical endurance, and it can help you perform everyday tasks. However, the very best part about strength training is that it helps you to use muscles you never have before, which helps you strengthen your body even in the places you didn’t needed toning up.

Strength training for women is incredibly useful and impactful. As a woman, there’s a lot of heavy lifting in your life. You work, you create, you lift your children in to the air for an embrace, you carry briefcases to and from the office, and you do so much more. Even everyday activities that seem mundane like cleaning or reaching up to grab something off of a shelf or bending low to put something away can work muscles you didn’t know you had, and strength training supports this type of functional fitness.

Also, keep in mind that the more lean muscle mass you have, the more fat you will burn, even when at rest!

Strength training also supports and promotes healthier aging, since the human body loses about 1% of a 1/3 pound of muscle mass every year after the age of 30. One study also showed that quality of muscle degrades, meaning that strength declines faster than actual muscle mass.

Whether you choose bodyweight exercises, weight machines, or free weights, a ripped toned body, healthy weight management, functional fitness, healthier aging, strength, and endurance are waiting for you!

Try these moves and search for others to continue your strength training and journey and discover just how fit you can really be.

Moves To Strengthen Your Mind And Transform Your Body

  • The Side Shoulder Raise: You perform this by beginning with your arms hanging in front of your thighs with elbows slightly bent and your palms facing one another. Then, raise both of your dumbbells outward to the height of your shoulders while still keeping your elbows bent. Lower to the first position and start again. Do this 5, 10, 15 times in row, slowly working your way up as you build strength and muscle.
  • The Upright Row: This one helps to tone the shoulders, neck, and upper back. To begin, take a stance similar to the one for the side shoulder raise: arms in front of your thighs with palms facing towards the thigs and hold the free weights close together. From here, you keep your palms close to your body and slowly raise the dumbbells up until they are touching your chin. Lower and repeat.
  • The Biceps Curl: To build up your biceps, begin with your arms hanging at your sides with your palms facing away from you. Make sure that you keep your elbows tucked close to your sides and curl the dumbbells upwards to your shoulders. Lower and repeat—you should feel a slight strain or pull in your upper arms to tell you that it’s working.
  • Alternating Dumbbell Press:http://womenshealth.thebesthealth.net/wp-admin/media-upload.php?post_id=45&type=image&TB_iframe=1 This last move is designed for your front and outer deltoids. To perform, sit on the weight bench with a straight back. Raise your dumbbells to your shoulder height while keeping your palms and elbows in. Then, press one dumbbell straight up by extending your arm completely. Lower, and do so with the other arm. Be sure not to lean or swat with the motion, but rather stay rigid and be sure to move with your breath: inhale as you raise the arm up, exhale as you bring it back down. Be sure to do the majority of the work using your shoulders and arms and keep your body planted and strong as you work.

How Yoga Can Improve Women’s Health

Yoga has been a cultural buzzword for almost a century. Its practices and techniques have made claims to affect everything from blood circulation to insomnia. Whether by a friend’s anecdote or through a new story shared on a Facebook feed, women have heard of this practice. There are benefits to women’s health through the practice of yoga exercises.

What is Yoga?

It is important, however, to define exactly what “yoga” is, as definitions and practices can vary wildly.

The most common exercise practiced in the West is called Hatha Yoga, (though many other disciplines exist), which originated in India 2,000 years ago. Yoga made its first large-scale appearance in the Western world in the late 18th century and since then has become a wide umbrella of techniques from different religious backgrounds.

It wavered in and out of the culture for a few decades but became a permanent fixture in the 1980s, when Dean Ornish popularized the technique for purely physical benefits. While some conservative groups still frown on the practice, it has become a cultural norm since this time.

Today more than 20 million Americans practice yoga and many more millions around the world.

Holistic Benefits of Yoga

Geeta S. Lyengar believes that due to her study of yoga, she was able to overcome a childhood disease without medication, even after spending four days unconscious in a nursing home with severe nephritis.

She also studied the Bhagavad Gita, a Hindu holy book, fervently and practiced meditation as well. Iyengar wrote largely of the holistic benefits of yoga.

She stated that it is a culture of:

  • External and internal cleanliness
  • Dietary control
  • Proper exercise of the limbs and organs
  • Physical and mental poise
  • Rest

However, she also cited its ability to help women specifically, especially in childbirth, menstruation, and menopause. It can be an art, science, and philosophy- or depending on the practitioner, none of the above.

More secular sources like the American College of Sports Medicine have called it an inwards and outward transition. How much of it is used in lifestyle versus physical exercise varies widely with each person who practices these poses, but common sense says that changing things like diets and cleanliness will improve lifestyle.

Health Benefits Of Yoga

Yoga has been cited by scholarly sources to show improvement of common ailments for women, including the American College of Sports Medicine.

Many Benefits Of Yoga

  • Yoga improves flexibility, strength, balance, and endurance.
  • It teaches the practitioner to reduce stress and better cope with stress.
  • Yoga teaches mindfulness by shifting awareness to the sensations, thoughts, and emotions that naturally accompany a particular pose.
  • A study from Duke University Medical Center shoed that yoga benefits those who suffer from mental disorders, including depression, schizophrenia, and anxiety
  • Yoga promotes good sleep and ease anxiety.
  • Practicing yoga in a class setting promotes the production of oxytocin in the brain a feel good hormone that naturally promotes wellness. Something that is especially useful for aging women.
  • Yoga along with meditation also results in higher serotonin levels, which is the mood boosting happiness hormone that can boost quality of life and general contentment.”
  • Couples often turn to yoga to increase chances of conception. Yoga promotes relaxation and reduces stress in the mother to be, both of which improve chances of conception. Yoga also plays a role in promoting blood flow to the reproductive organs, which improves organ function and hormone function.
  • Posture improves because yoga strengthens the core.
  • Yoga helps build lean muscle tone.
  • Quality time in a class setting allows for social interaction, comradery and an emotional connection to others, which improves a woman emotional health helping to improve her physical health and reduce risk for heart disease.
  • Being aware of and knowing how to stretch core muscle groups can be beneficial in managing menstrual cramps and childbirth without medication. They are also used in back strengthening techniques in older women at risk of osteoporosis.
  • Core strength improves with yoga. Using yoga to strengthen core muscles can increase flexibility in women, which can improve overall health as well as comfort during pregnancy. These techniques are also valuable in sports practiced more often by women such as gymnastics and cheerleading.
  • Proper breathing techniques have been used to help women in childbirth for decades. It can also be used to relieve anxiety and help with insomnia.

There is also evidence, though less conclusive, that yoga can benefit those under more severe ailments:

  • Breast and Ovarian Cancer: Though yoga cannot change the physical consequences of cancer, many have reported a higher quality of life after practicing these techniques regardless of the severity of their condition.
  • Depression: No conclusive evidence has been made, but the physical act of stretching and communicating with others in a class setting can help improve quality of life and alleviate mild depression.

Yoga can have positive effects on overall health as well as some specific disorders. Injuries are rare, and there is little equipment or training needed. It is easy to find certified yoga instructors at the local gym, or by visiting the site one of the most recognized organizations, Yoga Alliance. It can give women the extra punch they need to be in excellent overall health.

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