As Elle Woods once wisely told us, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” But, in addition to the fact that happy people don’t kill their husbands (they just don’t), we all know that exercise is critical to maintaining our physical health.
Although aerobic activities are many women’s preference, there is a different type of exercise that prevents dangerous diseases in women — so we’d be wise to swap out some of our time on the elliptical or in the swimming pool in favor of strength training exercises.
The results of a new study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise show that strength-training significantly lowers the risk for type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This information is especially relevant to women, who tend to avoid muscle-strengthening activities more than men.
Strength training doesn’t just make the muscles bigger — it increases our bone density, which is especially beneficial for aging women. It also reduces our body mass index, which improves how the body uses insulin.
Researchers examined data from the Women’s Health Study, which followed approximately 36,000 older women who ranged in age from 47-98.
After tracking their health and exercise habits for 14 years, the study found that women who did muscle-strengthening exercises were healthier on a number of levels.
“Women who reported participating in any amount of strength training were more likely to have a lower BMI, more likely to engage in healthy dietary patterns, and less likely to be a current smoker,” the authors write.
The results also indicated that strength training decreased a woman’s risk for type-2 diabetes by 30% and cardiovascular diseases by 17% compared to the participants who didn’t incorporate strength training into their exercise regimens.
Unsurprisingly, a combination of aerobic and strength training exercises reduced the risks even more.
The participants who incorporated both forms of exercise into their routine had a 65% lower risk of developing type-2 diabetes than women who didn’t exercise at all.
Even if we aren’t wild about the idea of lifting weights and prefer sweating it out on the treadmill, the results of the study show that rejiggering our workout regimen to include strength training could protect us from dangerous diseases later on in life. Surely that’s worth the price of picking up a few dumbbells several times a week, right?