The Importance of Strength Training
Strength training isn’t just good for your muscles, it provides a multitude of benefits for the entire body, including improved heart health and balance, stronger bones, weight loss, and improved mental well-being.
Types of training include free-weights, weight machines, resistance bands, and even your own body weight. It works by applying a load/overload to a specific muscle or muscle group, and force the muscles to adapt and grow stronger.
Here’s a scary stat: your muscle mass and strength will decrease 30 to 50% between the ages of 30 and 80. That means the average person starts losing the ability to perform everyday functions as soon as they hit middle-age because of sarcopenia, the gradual and natural loss of lean muscle mass.
A common misconception is that you may be too old for strength training. But clinical data from a multitude of sources clearly shows the benefits of improving one’s functional fitness level, particularly for older adults. (inbodyusa.com)
But with all those benefits, “the average American flat-out loathes strength training. While about half of people do the recommended amount of aerobic activity each week, only 20% also do the muscle-strengthening moves that work major muscle groups.” (Time Magazine)
Why Does It Work?
Strength training works by boosting your metabolism, burning calories. It contributes to excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). As your body recovers from your workout and moves back to a resting state, it will keep burning more calories because of your workout. The more intense your workout, the longer it takes for your body to return to resting state, and the more calories you will burn.
Other benefits include raising your circulating levels of endorphins, which improve your mood and increase in your energy level as well. The anxiolytic effects of resistance training have also been documented, and in a another study, resistance training improved sleep patterns.
Further, tossing some iron improved glycemic control and muscle strength in elderly patients with type 2 diabetes, states research of a meta-analysis/review of 10 clinical trials.
We also can’t forget the famous benefits to improved bone health (bone density, structure, and strength), says a LIFTMORE study, published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. Lifting something heavy, like a dumbbell, makes bones bear more weight, and in exercise, stressing your bones is a good thing. Bones are constantly remodeling, explains Anthony Hackney, an exercise physiologist at the University of North Carolina. “Your body is always adding calcium to your bones and taking calcium away from your bones”.
“This delicate balance starts to tip as people age, and “they lose more mineral from the bone than they’re able to lay down,” Hackney adds. Over time, bone gets less dense and more brittle and prone to osteoporosis, a condition that affects about 10 million Americans—80% of whom are female. Women have smaller, thinner bones than men from the start, and after menopause they lose estrogen, a hormone that protects bones.” (Time Magazine)
Last, strength training lowers colon cancer risk by 22-25%, according to findings in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
The Final Verdict
Functional strength training is a proven way to slow down the effects of age-related muscle atrophy and decrease your risk for injury. By adding just 2-3 days of functional strength exercises a week, you should see improvements in your ability to perform your everyday activities and maybe even fat loss! That’s quite a return on a very small time investment. (inbodyusa.com)