Why We Should Strength Train

Everyone knows the importance of an all inclusive, balanced approach to health and fitness. Some kind of conditioning exercise (cardio) is essential. Eating healthy is a must. Getting enough rest and quality sleep is vital. People are also emphasizing stretching. But strength training?

Why Should You Strength Train?

  • Health Benefits:
    • Get stronger and build lean muscle
    • Lose fat
    • Build stronger bones
    • Provides benefits to mental health, such as anxiety, depressions, fatigue, self-esteem and sleep
    • Beneficial for the rehabilitation of various musculoskeletal conditions, such as knee osteoarthritis, chronic tendinopathy and after hip replacement surgery.
    • Has been shown to improve pain and functional ability in people with chronic low back pain.
    • Protects from symptomatic osteoarthritis development.
    • Integral for rehabilitation with neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and stroke to name a few.

What many people usually don’t realize is:

 

Strength (resistance) training also has many of the same benefits of aerobic/endurance exercise.

 

Besides body composition improvements (basically, your ratio of muscle to fat) there are quite a few metabolic benefits. A few are:

  • Improves insulin sensitivity (how your body deals with high blood sugar).
  • Improves your good (HDL) to bad (LDL) cholesterol ratio.
  • Lowers triglycerides (fat molecules) in the blood stream.
  • Improves basic metabolic rate. (Burning more calories even at rest)

Both resistance (strength) and aerobic exercise increase “good” cholesterol and lover “bad” cholesterol.

 

 

So How Important are the Unique Strength Training Benefits?

Starting as early as 25, people lose about 1.0% of muscle a per year. This is known as ‘sarcopenia’, and it is not a disease, it’s normal. As you can see this has tremendous implications as we age. Things as simple as pushing yourself out of a chair become difficult, and going up and down stairs may not even be an option. Also, your metabolism slows, body fat increases and a whole array of negative health effects can be associated with loss of muscle. Worst of all, the weakness can increase your chances of falling and breaking a bone. Strength training has been shown to stop, and even reverse the effects of sarcopenia.

 

If you are 40-49 and you haven’t started strength training you will have:

  • Noticeable losses in strength
  • loss of power
  • loss of muscle mass
  • loss of bone density
  • loss of balance
  • loss of flexibility

By age 50-59:

  • 12-14% loss of strength and power over the decade
  • 6% loss of muscle mass over the decade
  • 10% loss of bone density
  • Continued decrease in balance and flexibility

Age 60 and up:

  • Another 12-14% loss of strength and power per decade
  • Another 6% loss of muscle mass per decade
  • Another 10% loss of bone density for men over the decade
  • Women lose approx. 2-3% bone
  • Continued decrease in balance and flexibility

This rate of physical attrition doesn’t need to happen to you. It can be kept in check with Functional Strength Training.

 

The benefits of having a strong functioning body are:

  • You can continue your lifestyle and leisure activities or even start new ones. No need to stop because you are getting older.
  • Reduce or eliminate back pain depending on the cause.
  • Maintain or even increase muscle mass which plays a crucial role in weight management.
  • Maintain or increase bone density. You can’t see it or feel it but it happens.

One of the biggest benefits of Functional Strength Training is the ability to continue to do all the things you currently do and also possibly do them better.

For example you will be able to:

  • Drive a golf ball further
  • Move and hit better in tennis
  • have a better balance and strength for water activities
  • lift, carry, dig and bend much more in the garden
  • walk, stand and move without or less back pain
  • lift and carry things without fear of injury
  • hike, walk, sightsee or trek with a back pack.

 

The benefits of weight training for men and women over the age of 40 far outweigh those that just choose cardio.

  • You will lose body fat
  • You will gain strength without bulk
  • You will decrease your risk of osteoporosis
  • You will improve your athletic performance (golf, tennis, hiking, biking)
  • You will be physically stronger
  • Reduce your risk of injury, back pain and arthritis
  • You will reduce your risk of heart disease
  • You will reduce your risk of diabetes
  • It is never too late to benefit
  • You will improve your attitude and fight depression

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