Guest Column - February 2009
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Exercise & Fitness

Women & Weights: Overcoming Barriers

By Jaclyn Haines, Abigail Thrine, Dr. Peter Titlebaum & Corinne M. Daprano


Even moderate resistance training can help reduce injuries because of the physical adaptations that occur in bones, ligaments and tendons after training, especially in older females, according to the Harvard Women's Health Watch in 2004.

Additional benefits of weight training were found in a study conducted by Erica Depcik and Lavon Williams in their article "Weight Training and Body Satisfaction of Body-Image-Disturbed College Women." This was published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology in 2004 and sought to examine the effects of weight training on body satisfaction among college-aged women with body-image disturbances. They found that weight training actually increased body satisfaction among women with distorted body images. The researchers also praised weight training's immediate feedback that allowed women to increase their weight loads as their strength increased. Lastly, weight training added to the overall health of a woman and was easily accessible due to the central location of recreation complexes on college campuses.

In 2006, a study's results were published by Ruth Henry, Mark Anshel and Timothy Michael in an article called "Effects of Aerobic and Circuit Training on Fitness and Body Image Among Women." This appeared in the Journal of Sport Behavior and examined the effects of weight training on fitness and body image among women. The researchers concluded that weight training enhanced both body image and overall feelings of well-being. Interestingly enough, the women who experienced the greatest improvements included those who were heavier and who were not previously involved in any other regular physical activity. Even more interesting, several of the participants actually gained an insignificant amount of weight during the study, but still reported improved body image as a result of weight lifting.

Finally, weight training for women has also been shown to drastically improve mood as reported by Courtney Rocheleau, Gregory Webster, Angela Bryan and Jacquelyn Frazier in their article "Moderators of the Relationship Between Exercise and Mood Changes: Gender, Exertion Level, and Workout Duration," which appeared in Psychology and Health in 2004. They found that positive mood benefits were apparent after one bout of exercise and in as little as 10 minutes of activity. Furthermore, women who participated in weight training exercises reported the lowest post-exercise negative mood, when compared to those who participated only in cardiovascular activity.

What conclusion can fitness facility directors draw from all this research? In order to encourage more women to use the weight room, an educational class teaching the benefits, myths and tips of weight training may be needed.



ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Jaclyn Haines is an undergraduate student at the University of Dayton currently studying Sport Management, Marketing and Spanish.
Abigail Thrine is the assistant director for Facility Operations for the Department of Campus Recreation at the University of Dayton.
Dr. Peter Titlebaum is associate professor of Sport Management at the University of Dayton with more than 25 years of experience teaching and coaching.
Corinne M. Daprano is an associate professor of Sport Management for the Department of Health and Sport Science at the University of Dayton with more than 20 years of experience working in the sport and recreation industry.