In a first-of-its-kind look at strength-training and weightlifting trends in the United States, new research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports women are pumping more iron, with nearly one in five doing twice-a-week workouts. Boomer and senior women are in general leading that charge.
Published recently in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the study found an overall increase in weightlifting and other forms of strength-training among many age groups in both genders. In 2004, for example, about 20 percent of U.S. adults were doing strength-training at least twice a week, up slightly from the late 1990s, when it was about 18 percent.
Women are hitting the weights more than other groups, however: 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 around 21.5 percent. Researchers said they saw increases in strength-training from 1998 until around 2002, when the trend line went flat.
Notable among the statistics was a steady rise in strength training among women in the 45-64 age group. Baby boomer women -- an important customer base for many fitness equipment dealers -- maintained a steady and consistent rise in participation: 1998, 12.3 percent; 1999, 13.1 percent; 2000, 14.6 percent; 2001, 15.6 percent; 2002, 16.6 percent; 2003, 17.2 percent; and 2004, 17.6 percent.
"Women are starting to become more interested in strength-training because of the increased prevalence of osteoporosis," Judy Kruger, a CDC epidemiologist who was the study's lead author, told the Associated Press.
The study also noted that older adults – both men and women 65 and older -- do less strength-training than younger people, but there was a marked increase in the percentage of people who did two or more workouts each week. For older men, the statistic rose to 14 percent in 2004, up from 11 percent in 1998. For older women, it rose to almost 11 percent of women in 2004, up from about 7 percent in 1998.
The study's data come 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?"
The report added that the U.S. government has set a public health goal that 30 percent of American adults should be doing strength-training at least twice a week by 2010. But the new report indicated that the goal maybe difficult to attain after analyzing the data from the recent study.
To view the CDC study, click here. (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5528a1.htm)