General health guidelines primarily focus on the importance of regular physical activity and steady-state cardio to keep you fit and healthy. The main benefits from these will be increased cardiorespiratory fitness and decreased levels of body fat, but what are the benefits of strength training? The benefits are probably more numerous than you may have previously thought!
Recent research has found that resistance training can prevent osteoporosis, reduces the loss of muscle, can contribute to functional abilities that you perform in day to day life, and can even alleviate lower back pain. As you age past the fine age of 30, sedentary people will gradually lose muscle every year. This results in a weaker body over time, but you can combat this by performing resistance training 2 times per week! Some more recent studies suggest that resistance training may also positively affect insulin resistance, resting metabolic rate, blood pressure, and even body fat – this means that lifting some weights a couple of times per week might reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease! Sounds like a fair trade off to me.
Strength training doesn’t mean you have to immediately start lifting heavy weights and eat like a pig. A sensible training programme would include slow and controlled movements that target large muscle groups, such as the squat, bench press, and deadlift. These 3 exercises require the assistance of just about every large muscle in the body, and over time, these can enhance the performance of every day activities like walking up the stairs, carrying the shopping in, or heavy lifting at work! Risk of injury can also decrease if you perform resistance training correctly as your tendons and ligaments increase in strength, and bone density also increases!
An obvious benefit of strength training is increased muscle size. More muscle equals a higher metabolism, which can help you lose body fat more efficiently than only doing hours of mindless cardio, assuming that you are keeping track of your nutrition. Your overall body weight might not change drastically at first because you may have gained muscle and lost fat, resulting in your weight remaining stagnant. Over time, you’ll notice a difference in body measurements and body fat!
General body posture can also improve, due to the muscles of the neck, back and core being strengthened, resulting in you standing and sitting more straight. Strengthening the core can also improve balance and stability which is especially important for some older adults. Finally, strength training is a fantastic stress reliever so make use of it!