Five Health Benefits of Strength Training
This is a guest post by Michael Lynch of Is It Keto.
Most people know that lifting weights gives you bigger muscles and greater strength. But weight training is about more than looking good when you flex at the beach. It has broad benefits for your overall physical health, your mental well-being, and your resistance to a variety of diseases.
Here are five valuable health benefits of strength training that you might not know about:
1. Elevates your mood
Strength training improves your mental fitness as well as your physical health. Numerous studies have found that regular weightlifting reduces anxiety, improves confidence, and can even rescue you from depression.
When you lift heavy loads, your body releases several chemicals that have a positive effect on your mood:
Serotonin - sometimes called “the happy chemical,” this helps regulate mood and sleep
Dopamine - allows people to feel pleasure and satisfaction
Testosterone - increases sex drive in men — a shortage of it can lead to depression
2. Reduces your risk of injury
Breaking a bone or pulling a muscle can put you out of commission for months. Serious injuries hinder your fitness goals and interfere with your everyday life. Fortunately, resistance training makes your body more robust against injury.
Lifting weights thickens your bones and increases their density, reducing your risk of fractures. Strengthening of your bones also limits your risk of osteoporosis, the decay of bone tissue. For people suffering from osteoporosis, weight training is one of the top forms of treatment, as it slows bone deterioration.
Weight training improves your physical fitness beyond the added strength in your muscles and bones. It stimulates your entire nervous system and gives you greater control over your movements. This translates to better balance, improved posture, and finer muscle control. All of these factors cut your odds of injury through falling or straining a muscle.
3. Improves heart health
In the US, heart disease continues to claim more lives than any other cause. A shocking 33% of American adults suffer from high blood pressure. Also known as “hypertension,” this condition strains your blood vessels, weakening them over time. It causes cholesterol to clog your arteries, further inhibiting healthy blood flow. Untreated, high blood pressure can lead to a variety of severe medical conditions, ranging from heart attacks, loss of vision, and sexual dysfunction.
Although aerobic exercises like biking and jogging have long been popular for improving heart health, there’s growing evidence that strength training is just as effective. Weightlifting increases blood flow to your limbs, improving circulation and reducing pressure in your arteries. In fact, a 2018 study found that people who regularly practiced resistance training were even less likely to suffer heart disease than those who did cardio exercises.
4. Fights diabetes
Diabetes can be devastating to a person’s lifestyle. It occurs when the body fails to produce or properly use insulin, the hormone that regulates the body’s level of blood sugar.
People with diabetes have found that strength training reduces their symptoms. It increases muscle size and adds lean body mass, both of which help the body produce insulin and use it properly. For people at risk of diabetes, strength training has proven to be an effective preventative measure, in some cases reducing risk by up to 65%.
5. Keeps your mind sharp
Mental deterioration is one of the tragic effects of aging. Older adults experience greater difficulty focusing, solving complex problems, and retaining memories. Researchers have found that strength training might be the solution.
A growing body of research has shown that weightlifting can preserve your mental acuity as you age. Older people who maintain consistent strength training programs score higher on tests of focus, task switching, and mental speed. Strength exercises may even help improve memory.
Scientists are still trying to pin down why strength training affects your brain so positively as you age. One theory is that its positive effect on circulation keeps a healthy blood flow to your brain. Another possibility is that weightlifting exercises your entire nervous system, strengthening your brain in the process.
What are you waiting for?
The sooner you start weight training, the sooner you can begin enjoying all these benefits. Stop by a Fitness Together studio, and we’ll work with you to find a training program that’s right for you.