5 Reasons Everyone Should Be Strength Training

Strength training is not just for young people or athletes. It’s proven to provide a wealth of physical and mental health benefits for people of all ages, abilities, and fitness levels.

Regular strength training can boost energy and performance and help to increase metabolism. It also lifts mood, helps with weight loss and maintaining bone health. It can also help manage, prevent, and fight diseases and conditions such as sarcopenia, osteoporosis, and diabetes.

What is strength training?

Strength training – also called weight training or resistance training – is simply activities or exercises that build strength of your muscles. The Australian Government recommends adults aged 18-64 do muscle strengthening activities on at least two days each week.[1] This can be achieved in a range of different ways, including using free weights, weight machines, resistance bands and body weight. When you start strength training, it is important to seek out advice on the correct technique. This will ensure you get the maximum benefits out of your sessions and prevent injury.

Here are five reasons why everyone, regardless of their experience, should be strength training.

1. Strength training helps with everyday performance.

When you’re stronger, normal tasks seem easier. Strength training is all about performing movements under a gradually increasing load that forces muscles to adapt and grow stronger. When you grow stronger and improve stamina, you won’t get as tired from your daily routine. In addition, resistance training helps with better body mechanics by developing balance, coordination, mobility and posture.

Strength training also helps with mental clarity as it has been found to impact on sleeping patterns. Inadequate sleep has a massive impact on cognitive ability and quality of life. A review of 13 studies found that resistance exercise improves all aspects of sleep, with the greatest benefit for sleep quality. In addition to the sleep benefits, the research found that resistance training reduced anxiety and depression.[2] Strength training also raises your levels of endorphins, which improve your mood and increase your energy level. It has shown to provide an improved sense of wellbeing and can boost self-confidence and your body image.[3]

2. Burn more, without doing more.

It sounds like a dream come true, but strength training will help you burn more calories when you are resting. The number of calories required to keep your body functioning is your metabolic rate. Building muscle builds your metabolic rate and increases the number of calories you burn hours after you finish exercising. This is called Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC), or afterburn. EPOC sees the body continue to burn calories after working out. This is because it needs to take in oxygen at a higher rate than it did pre-exercise so it can cool down, repair itself, and return to its resting state.[4]

3. Lose weight and keep it off.

An increased metabolic rate helps to achieve and maintain weight loss. Strength training is an effective tool to lose weight, without spending hours on the treadmill. By building muscle, you will not only burn calories during the workout, but during day-to-day activities. You will also need additional nutrients as you recover. Combine resistance training with the right nutrition, and you can increase your lean body mass and decrease body fat. Once you have lost weight, your resting metabolic rate will be higher and so will your daily intake. This will make it easier to maintain your new body composition.

4. Protect bone health.

Strength training protects bone health by increasing bone density and strength, which results in a reduced risk of osteoporosis.[5] According to Harvard Medical School, bone mass gradually declines at the rate of 1% per year after the age of 40 as a result of age-related changes, inactivity and inadequate nutrition. As bones grow more fragile, they are more likely to break after even a minor stress or impact, but it is possible to maintain and improve bone density through strength training. Weight training achieves this by applying gradually increasing stress on the bones, nudging bone-forming cells into action. This results in stronger, denser bones. [6]

5. Fight and prevent disease.

A healthier body composition is a higher lean body mass and lower body fat. It helps to fight against or control sarcopenia, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart disease and obesity. From around age 30, we begin to lose as much as 3-5% of lean muscle mass per year. This age-related muscle loss is called sarcopenia. It may seem daunting, but it is a natural part of ageing and can be prevented and reversed.[7] Less muscle means greater weakness and less mobility, which may increase the risk of injury. However, regular strength training, combined with the right nutrients will improve muscle strength and hypertrophy, protecting your joints from injury.

Research shows people with arthritis can safely participate in resistance training and can prevent, and even reverse muscle weakness. It helps with arthritis as stronger muscles support joints by reducing the amount of strain and stress on them. Arthritis Australia recommends regular weight training under the supervision of a qualified health or exercise professional, as part of an exercise program for people with arthritis.[8]

Strength training has also been found to protect the brain from degeneration in areas particularly vulnerable to Alzheimer’s. A recent University of Sydney study concluded that six months of resistance training among those at high risk of Alzheimer’s disease led to overall benefits up to one year later. The study found that those who did not do any saw regions of the brain which play a role in learning and memory shrink by 3-4% during the 18-month period. In comparison, those who engaged in strength training during the research saw only a 1-2% reduction, and in some areas, none at all.[9]

Take action

Strength training is a key part of a healthy lifestyle, but many of these long-term benefits will only be achieved if the training is conducted safely and regularly. At Plexus, we help our clients achieve their personal goals with one-on-one personal training sessions. Book in a consultation to find out how we can help improve your strength and overall health, regardless of your experience.

 

References

[1] https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines#npa%2065

[2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28919335/

[3] https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/resistance-training-health-benefits

[4] https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00421-001-0568-y?LI=true

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6279907/

[6] https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/strength-training-builds-more-than-muscles

[7] https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/preserve-your-muscle-mass

[8] https://arthritisaustralia.com.au/managing-arthritis/living-with-arthritis/physical-activity-and-exercise/strength-training/

[9] https://www.sydney.edu.au/news-opinion/news/2020/02/11/strength-training-can-help-protect-the-brain-from-degeneration.html