Weight training is for nearly everyone. It has oodles of health benefits for women and can turn our bodies into fat burning ovens by boosting our metabolism. Weights are great for getting stronger and looking trim. Cardio is awesome, but it’s not the only way for us to get healthy.

The Stats

CDC analyzed data from the National Health Interview Survey and found that from 1998-2004, only 17% of women participated in strength training two or more times a week. The Center for Disease Control states that adults “who engage in strength training are less likely to experience loss of muscle mass and fall-related injuries,” but women don’t appear to be flocking to the exercise.

You Won’t Look Like Arnold

Lifting won’t make you huge like an oiled-up television body builder, unless you devote your day to the gym. According to K. Aleisha Fetters at  Shape, “strength training may have a reputation of making women “bulk up,” but it’s not true. The more your weight comes from muscle (rather than fat) the smaller you’ll be.”

Lifting Weights

Toning is Good for a Variety of Reasons

Having more muscle helps you burn fat. Nutrition expert Elaine Magee advises on WebMd that you should strength train because “when you exercise, you use muscle. This helps build muscle mass, and muscle tissue burns more calories — even when you’re at rest — than body fat.”

If that isn’t enough to convince you, Elizabeth Quinn, exercise physiologist and fitness consultant at VeryWellFit lists the advantages of weight lifting as including reducing the risk of osteoporosis and heart disease, as well as boosting confidence. No matter your age, you can still see benefits. Quinn says, “women in their 70s and 80s have built up significant strength through weight training and studies show that strength improvements are possible at any age.” Mayo Clinic states a myriad of benefits from strength training saying it can “enhance your quality of life and improve your ability to do everyday activities” and “reduce the signs and symptoms of many chronic conditions, such as arthritis, back pain, obesity, heart disease, depression and diabetes.” They have posted a collection of strength-training how-to videos.

Get What You Need

CDC recommends in the second edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, that in addition to 150 minutes or more of aerobics a week, that adults “should also do muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity and that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these activities provide additional health benefits.” They go on to give examples saying “muscle-strengthening activities include lifting weights, working with resistance bands, doing calisthenics that use body weight for resistance (such as push-ups, pull-ups, and planks), carrying heavy loads, and heavy gardening.”

Whether you’re looking to over-haul your health or just tighten things up a bit, incorporating weights into your exercise routine can have many positive impacts, without making you bulky.