If you need a good reason to lift those weights or do those pushups, you have to read this.
So, you work out.
You hit the gym or the road several times a week and you’re proud of all those miles you’ve been tracking or the hours you spend sweating at those aerobic or zumba classes.
And you should be. You’re losing weight or you’re keeping it off – provided your diet is balanced, of course – and at the same time you keep your heart, cardiovascular and respiratory systems healthy.
But what about your muscles and your bones? What are you doing to keep those healthy?
Is your job one that requires lifting of heavy objects? Is your daily routine forcing you to train multiple muscles of your body? Do you lift weights? Are there any body resistance exercises in your program? In short, do you strength train at all?
If the answer to all of the above questions is “No”, you need to reconsider. Especially if you are near or into the fourth decade of your life. The reason is that after forty, the age-related decline in muscle mass starts peaking, especially for women. And not only in quantity but in the quality of the muscle fibers as well. The results may not show immediately but they will affect the quality of your life to a vast degree sooner or later.
Resistance training, whether with weights, other kind of resistance or just using the weight of your own body, can really stall the process of muscle mass loss and even restore any weakened muscular functions. Studies have shown that people who start progressive resistance training at any age experience a significant increase in muscle strength which helps them to easily maintain their functional abilities and the overall health of their musculoskeletal system.
And if you think you’re still too young to worry about all these, think again! Strength training can have tremendously positive effects in many areas of your life. Also, don’t forget that, as with all aspects of our health, the sooner we start being proactive, the better our chances of remaining healthy.
So, let’s look into all the reasons you need to begin resistance training today.
1. Bone and muscle health
Regular resistance training prevents osteoporosis, sarcopenia, lower-back pain and other disabilities that occur due to loss of muscle mass and bone density which are natural consequences of aging.
2. Muscle strength and endurance
When muscles are used frequently, they get stronger. And everyday activities like carrying objects or going up stairs get so much easier.
3. Change in body composition
Resting metabolic rate gradually increases as muscles get active and stronger. Which means that you burn more calories even when you rest. You may not see a significant change at the scale number but your body fat percentage will gradually drop and at the same time you’ll be gaining muscle. Soon, your body measurements will change and your body will look and feel so much different.
4. Reduced risk of injury
Stronger muscles, healthier tendons and ligaments and increased bone density will greatly lower your risk of injury which increases at a fast rate as years go by especially for people with little to zero physical activity.
Another characteristic that declines with age. But when we regularly work our muscles through a full range of motion, they get longer and make us much more flexible at any age.
6. Better overall health
Resistance training positively affects risk factors such as insulin resistance and glucose metabolism, which are associated with diabetes. Studies have shown that it also reduces high blood pressure, thus lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.
7. Better posture
The lengthening of the muscles and the frequent use of your joints will gradually change the way you sit and stand. Your posture will improve and so will your image. Don’t be surprised if you start looking taller!
8. Muscle definition and tone
If you’re tired of your muscles looking flat and with no tone or simply… invisible, strength training is the only thing that can change them. You can’t do that with aerobic exercise. Regular training will give them the tone and definition you desire.
And I have even better news! Research indicates that all the above benefits of resistance training can be obtained only with two or three 20-minute training sessions per week! As long as you make sure to train all major muscle groups with precise, controlled movements.
I’m sure we can all find this little free time for ourselves, right? Especially when the benefits are so important for our health and the quality of our everyday life!
Stay tuned! At the next fitness post, we’ll talk about all the little things that can make your strength training sessions safer, better and more effective.
In the meantime, I’d love to read your thoughts about strength training in the comments below!