Now, new research is finding that for women, lifting weights might be especially helpful because it wards off an age-related problem no woman welcomes – the “muffin top” effect, where abdominal fat spills over your pants to create the same look as a muffin top.
For two years, scientists at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine assessed changes in overall body fat and abdominal fat in 133 women, 25 to 44 years old, who were overweight or obese.
Half the women participated in twice-weekly strength training sessions that, like the Pritikin strength training program, worked all the major muscle groups using 8 to 10 free-weight exercises.
The other half, the standard care group, were given brochures recommending aerobic exercise such as brisk walking for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.
At the end of two years, the weight lifters had lost, on average, nearly 4% of their body weight while the women in the standard care group had lost no significant body fat.
Moreover, the women in the strength training group gained significantly less abdominal fat – a 7% increase compared to a 21% increase in the standard care group, which is very important not only for staying lean but also for staying healthy, noted lead author Kathryn Schmitz, MD, and colleagues.
Strong evidence from many studies, the authors explained, “show that the direct association of obesity with cardiovascular risk factors, morbity, and mortality is strongest in those with disproportionately high intraabdominal fat.”
So even when things are hectic, do your best to get two strength training sessions in each week. What a difference it can make to your waistline and your health!.
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2007; 86: 566.