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Strength training program targets women

By Josette Keelor

Strength training helps with weight loss, improves balance and will not cause women to look like men.

These are just some of the points Rebecca Davis plans to cover in an eight-week course called Strong Women, Strong Bones, beginning Sept. 15 at Wesley United Methodist Church, 527 Van Fossen St., Winchester. The deadline to register is Sept. 8.

Though men are welcome to participate as well, the class targets women over the age of 40.

"Women are less likely to strength train in that age group," said Davis, a family and consumer science agent with Virginia Cooperative Extension's Frederick County office in Winchester. She stressed the importance of incorporating weight lifting into everyday lives.

"You're less fragile and your balance is better," she said. "It's just got a whole host of benefits."

She said misconceptions about the outcomes of weight training have contributed to a disinterest many women have in lifting weights, such as the belief that strength training is the same as bodybuilding.

"Particularly with older women, a lot of them think they're going to get really muscular and more like men," Davis said. "It's not possible unless they're doing it unnaturally."

Rather, women will start to see more definition in their arms while improving muscle mass and bone density. According to a news release from the extension office, weight lifting reduces falls, improves arthritis symptoms and increases flexibility and strength.

Developed by Tuft's University researcher Miriam Nelson, the program stresses how critical strength is for leading a healthier, more active life. Davis has taught the program in Maryland but said this is her first time leading it in Winchester.

Since most women she expects to attend the class will have little to no experience lifting weights, Davis said she plans to start slowly. A warm-up will begin each class, and lifting routines will start with repetitions using smaller weights as light as 5 pounds, gradually working up to heavier weight and meeting the demands of participants' bodies.

Within a couple of weeks, participants will start to see results and be surprised at how much they can lift, Davis said.

"In other words, they're getting stronger."

The eight-week Strong Women, Strong Bones class costs $25. Pre-registration and the completion of health forms are required by Sept. 8. Participants must supply their own set of beginning dumbbells and leg weights. For recommendations, call Rebecca Davis at 540-665-5699 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday or email rdavis58@vt.edu. For special accommodations, call at least five days before the event.

Contact staff writer Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com

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