Strength training has unique physical and mental benefits that can augur a healthy and energetic life. With age, we start losing important muscle mass and instead, start storing fat. Since muscle burns more calories than fat, our metabolism begins to slow down. To reverse this process, we should invest our time in Strength Training- also known as weight training or load bearing exercise- which helps us gain our muscles back. Strength training involves exercising a specific muscle or a muscle group against external resistance to improve muscular fitness. The external resistance may include free weights, weight machines or one’s own body weight.
At OneFitPlus, we advise everyone to try strength training as it is very useful in shedding extra calories, increasing bone density, boosting metabolism, developing flexibility and augmenting our stamina. Lifting weights can also keep several diseases at bay.
The major benefits of strength training are:
BURNS MORE FAT
Increased muscle mass translates into faster metabolism and consequently an elevated fat burning rate. Weight training can increase a person’s metabolic rate for up to 12 hours after a workout which means you tend to burn calories even while sitting. So while cardio burns calories and fat during the workout, strength training lets you experience high excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), ensuring elevated metabolism even after the workout. So in order to achieve the best results, combine strength training with a balanced diet and cardio to burn more fat.
Strength training not just increases bone density, but minimises the risk of osteoporosis, arthritis and bone fractures. As we age, the loss of bone tissue gives rise to problems related to posture and weakness in tendons and ligaments. Resistance training is one of the best methods to prevent bone loss, postural deficit and maintain overall bone strength. Strong bones and muscles lower the severity of falls, making your body more resistant to injuries, aches and pains. “High‐Intensity Resistance and Impact Training Improves Bone Mineral Density and Physical Function in Postmenopausal Women with Osteopenia and Osteoporosis”, according to a randomized controlled trial conducted by American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.
Strength training can alleviate your stress and improve your mood as it raises the level of endorphins in your body. Regardless of age, stamina or skill level, weight lifting offers proven benefits in relieving anxiety and lowering symptoms of depression. According to a study mentioned in Harvard Health, people with mild to moderate depression who performed resistance training two or more days a week saw "significant" reductions in their symptoms, compared with people who did not. With an improved body image that comes with regular strength training, you also develop more confidence and self-esteem. Resistance training is also known to improve cognitive function and overall sense of positive well-being.
ENHANCES FLEXIBILITY AND BALANCE
With resistance training, your muscle flexibility and sense of balance gradually gets better. With a full range of motion, strength training helps keep the joints supple despite the expected wear and tear through daily life. Also as your muscles are strengthened, your balance, coordination and posture gets improved. An improved balance ensures strength in the legs, good mobility and a lesser risk of falling, especially for the elderly.
KEEPS AWAY DISEASES
If you are regular with strength training, your chances of contracting cancer, type 2 diabetes, high BP and cardiovascular disease go down significantly. As the basal metabolic rate increases with strength training, you tend to lose the dangerous abdominal or visceral fat, which is great for heart health and reduces the risk of diabetes. Pumping iron has proven benefits in correcting the blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Studies indicate that increased muscle mass enhances the chances of surviving cancer as well. Strong muscles also play a role in preventing injury.
You can start strength training by incorporating short sessions in your workout regime at home or at a gym. Weight Machines, mostly found in gyms, are excellent for resistance workouts while free weights like dumbbells and barbells are also a handy choice to avail similar benefits. The latter also do not require much space for storage. Body weight exercises such as planks, squats, crunches, push ups etc. have also come up as a favoured choice for fitness conscious people.
Mayo Clinic says You don't need to spend hours a day lifting weights to benefit from strength training. You can see significant improvement in your strength with just two or three 20- or 30-minute weight training sessions a week. As your lean muscle mass and bodily strength will go up, you shall experience an immediate improvement in energy levels, stamina and overall well-being. Do consult a certified fitness professional before you embark on a strength training program.