EVERYONE Should Be Strength Training
Strength training has been proven to have several health benefits that go beyond just building and maintaining muscle. Weight training does not mean going to the gym and lifting the heaviest dumbbells over our head or squatting so many reps we can’t even walk the next day (although that is fun sometimes). The benefits from strength training can be achieved by simply using moderate dumbbells or machines to put stress on the muscles even for just a brief period of time. And ladies, let’s get this out of the way at the get-go, strength training is not just for men and it does not make you bulky; it takes A LOT of hard work, heavy weights and years of practice to get “bulky”. Weight training is a no-brainer for those few who already know the health benefits, but if you don’t already know, keep reading and I will break them down for you.
Change the look and feel of your body
Everyone that exercises does so because of how it makes them look or feel. Maybe they do it because it is their escape from reality, or maybe they do it because lifting heavy weights makes them feel on top of the world. Either way, the act of exercising is occurring because of how it makes them feel, which is great! Everyone wants to feel good about themselves and exercising releases those “feel good” chemicals to help you do so. Not only do we like to feel good, we like to look good and be confident as well. Weight training will help to build muscle, which gives that “toned” look that people are after. The only thing that stops them, is the fact that the scale does not change. This occurs, not because muscle weighs more than fat, but because muscle is DENSER than fat. Therefore it weighs the exact same, yet it has a smaller appearance. So if the scale still says the same number, or maybe even higher, after weeks of weight training, make sure you take a look back at where you started and compare it to the look you have now!
This should be important for everyone, but usually, it’s those who have an increased risk due to family illness or personal illness that weight train for the purpose of reducing risk/symptoms of the disease.
Strength training can benefit those with chronic heart disease. How? The heart is a closed hydraulic system that pumps blood throughout the body, so if there is a muscle group working to pump blood back to the heart at a faster rate than at rest, it actually helps to open up the vascular system. So if there are constant contractions occurring (such as weight lifting), vasodilation will actually begin to increase and thus benefiting those with heart disease.
Weight training benefits for those with diabetes? It actually helps to regulate blood glucose levels. When you lift a weight or make a muscle contraction, the body is using glycogen. If we are continuously draining our system of glycogen (or carbohydrates, sugars) like when weight training, the body is always trying to refill the tank. If we are constantly emptying and refilling the tank, there is no time for the tank to “overflow” with glycogen and therefore the bodies glucose levels stay consistent.
Increased bone density
As a result of aging, we lose some of our muscle mass and bone density. Weight training can actually slow the process of bone loss. This occurs because putting stress on the muscle (like with lifting weights) also puts stress on the bones. When stress is put on the bones, it kicks the bone building cells into action and therefore not only stops the breakdown of bone over time, but can also build it up. It isn’t just strength training that does this, any weight bearing activity such as walking and running can also create stronger, denser bones!
Increased Fat Loss
The number one concern among most people today is weight loss. How to do it? What is the quickest way? Who can help me? How long does it take? It seems most people are obsessed with how fast they can lose weight and the easiest way to do so. Well news flash, there is no quick and easy way. And if there is, it isn’t sustainable. When people think weight loss, they think decreasing the number on the scale and the only way to do so is a whole lot of cardio and exercise. But, this isn’t always true. What if I told you that weight training actually aided in the process of fat loss?! Yes, that’s right, lifting weights doesn’t just make you gain strength and muscle. During weight training workouts you will burn a significant number of calories because of the mechanical stress you are putting on the body. But increases in muscle will allow the body to burn more calories at rest, and thus resulting in overall fat loss because of the increased calories burned throughout the day.
Reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety
Like any other disease, depression and anxiety can take a toll you both emotionally and physically. Studies done by Harvard and Duke students have proven that strength training can have a huge impact on those who suffer from anxiety and depression. Participants in a study performed 4 workouts a week for a duration of 40 minutes and results proved these students relieved their symptoms without medication. Researchers have several hypotheses that may be the reasons strength training is so beneficial in these individuals. One looks at the rise in core body temperature. After strength training, the core body temperature is increased which allows to the brain stem to give off feelings of relaxation and reduced muscle tension. Other theories include the idea that the release of endorphins and dopamine increase mood and feelings of contentment and well-being. If even the quickest, simplest strength training routine could diminish these symptoms by a half or even a quarter without the use of medication, who wouldn’t try it out?!
The above has just proved to you that strength training is not specific to only those who want to bulk up or lose weight. There are so many benefits to simply lifting a dumbbell that making it part of your weekly routine seems to be a no-brainer. Before you jump into any kind of new workout routine, please make sure you consult your doctor and do your research. Strength training has several incredible benefits that make you want to start immediately, but it can also cause a lot of problems or injuries if it is not done correctly. So use the resources at your gym or ask around so you know the correct way to reap the benefits of strength training without hurting yourself!