- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 27, 2006


Women are pumping more iron, with nearly one in five doing twice-a-week workouts, a federal study shows.

The desire for a more attractive body along with worries about bone loss probably contribute to the trend, researchers said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted the research, which is published this week in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. It is called the first to look at the national prevalence of weightlifting and other forms of strength training.

The study found an overall increase in weightlifting and other forms of strength training. In 2004, about 20 percent of U.S. adults were doing strength training at least twice a week, up slightly from the late 1990s, when about 18 percent of adults were.

Women improved the most: About 17.5 percent did twice-a-week workouts in 2004, up from about 14.5 percent in 1998. Men, in contrast, held steady at about 21.5 percent.

Body-celebrating women’s magazines such as Oxygen and Shape are part of a cultural shift that has led more women to embrace weightlifting, some fitness researchers said.

“Women see this as an ideal they’d like to achieve, and it makes weight training more approachable to women,” said Teresa Moore, an associate professor of exercise science at the University of South Carolina.

Long-term concerns about bone loss and a recognition that strength-training can help also may be factors.

“Women are starting to become more interested in strength training because of the increased prevalence of osteoporosis,” said Judy Kruger, a CDC epidemiologist who was the study’s lead author.

The study’s data came from an annual national survey that involves face-to-face interviews with tens of thousands of U.S. adults. Starting in the year 1998, this question was added: “How often do you do physical activities designed to strengthen your muscles, such as lifting weights or doing calisthenics?”

Researchers saw increases in strength training from 1998 until about 2002, when the trend line went flat.

“I can’t speak to why it leveled off,” said Miss Kruger, who works in the CDC’s Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity.

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