Paying attention to your nutrition and performing light exercises is healthy, but it’s not that effective if you want to really keep yourself fit. Some women avoid going to the gym, especially the weights section, because of the stereotypes that surround it – weightlifters have little brain and tons of muscles. Judging people based on stereotypes is wrong, and if you visit the weight section in your nearby gym just once, you’ll find a very diverse group of members – men and women of different sizes, shapes, personalities, and abilities.

When it comes to long-term mental, physical, and emotional health, strength training also has a lot to offer. Every woman wants to be happy with her own appearance and feel comfortable in her own skin, and weight training can help you get the body you’ve always wanted. Here are just a handful of ways strength training can improve your life.

1. Weight Management

Strength training boosts muscle mass, which means that you will burn more calories even when resting because muscle tissue is metabolically more active than fat tissue. If you’re hesitant about adding a strength training routine to your cardio workout, don’t be. Lifting weights shouldn’t replace cardio training; it needs to be used in combination with cardio for best results. This will provide greater benefits for fitness levels and is more effective for your weight loss goals.

2. Improved Focus

Instead of laying your hands on that tub of ice cream whenever you get stressed, pack your bag and go to the gym instead. Results from a 2011 study showed that focus and cognitive power can be significantly increased just by doing one strength workout a week. It’s a great way to improve alertness and productivity, organize your mental clutter, and flush out all the negativity and stress. Managing to de-clutter your brain is especially important today, with so many things that are aggressively trying to draw our attention (social media, news, ads, never-ending to-do lists, and heavy workloads). When in the gym, your goal is progress, and you eventually learn to leave everything behind while training.

3. Improved Confidence

Strength training makes you feel strong, and not just physically. You’re developing definition, your muscles are growing, and you’re boosting your metabolism. All of that combined works as a powerful confidence-booster. One of the best ways to discover the strength of your mind is to challenge your body. For example, you won’t always feel like going to the gym or finishing your sets. However, you’ll get past that point if you just keep showing up anyway and keep working even though you don’t feel like it. This will develop your mental fortitude and help you discover what you’re really made of. On the other hand, there are certain steps you should take to prevent weightlifting failures and injuries – learn how to perform strength exercises properly, wear good bodybuilding shoes, warm-up and stretch before training, and don’t try to lift too much weight.

4. Stronger Bones

A sedentary lifestyle is the modern-day plague. It causes a lot of long-term damage to your body and is one of the main causes of bone loss and osteoporosis. Strength training can reduce the risk of age-related bone loss and help preserve mineral density. According to a Berkeley study from 2016, lifting weights is an effective method of increasing bone density in sedentary and older population.

5. Strength Training Boosts Mood

A quick strength workout can help you feel better, if you’re feeling sad or down. The release of serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins (known as ‘happiness hormones’) is boosted during strength training, which is why visiting the gym is recommended for people suffering from seasonal affective disorder, anxiety, mood dips, and depression. Thanks to an improved body image and self-confidence, regular strength training is the perfect ego booster.

I hope you realize that strength training isn’t just for gym rats, but that it can benefit everyone in many ways. Most women who go to the gym regularly don’t spend much time using resistance exercises to challenge their bodies; they mostly do cardio exercises. If you don’t want to hit the weights with a male crowd, you can go to a specific women-only fitness center. Find a strength training program online or ask a gym trainer to help you create one that suits your needs. Avoid doing the same old routine, change it from time to time; that way both your mind and body will improve.