Whether we want to admit it or not, our physical strength is a key component to our daily lives. Although times have changed and we no longer require brute strength to determine how much food we eat or how dry we stay. We now require that same strong body to perform daily activities like lugging grocery bags, keeping up with our children, moving furniture, doing yard work, or performing well at our physically demanding job.
In today’s time it seems that physical activity is almost regarded as an option. We lead more sedentary lifestyles and often exercise is only sought after as a last resort or a thing we must do to fix an arising health problem or complications associated with weight gain.
Strength training is not just meant for body building, it’s an all-in-one functional fitness strategy that is good for one’s health. Our physical strength is vital to the quality and quantity of our time here in these bodies and is the very thing both our mind and body require to function properly in the 21st century.
A few decades ago strength training was not looked upon as an essential element of basic health. For most adults the recommendation was 30-45 minutes of steady state aerobic activity most days of the week but made no mention of the importance of strength. More recent studies from the ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) recommend at the very least two resistance training sessions per week per muscle group with a variety of exercises and equipment. And according to Brad Schoenfeld, PhD., CSCS,. “Strength training confers more health benefits than anything else you can possibly do.”
So just what are these health benefits?
1. Long term strength training fights chronic inflammation, lowers risks of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
2. Amped immunity. A healthy immune response in the skeletal muscle was noted in those who lifted for at least four months says a study in the Journal of Applied Science.
3. Strengthen bones. Aside from calcium consumption, weight training is one of the best ways to prevent age related bone loss. Repetitive lifting aids in building bone density.
4. Better aging. Weight training boosts our natural release of human growth hormone which aids in muscle bone turnover and provides a better body composition. Muscle loss is bad news for almost every system in the body including digestion, cardiovascular, and mobility. On the average, inactive adults lose 5-10 percent of their muscle mass every decade. Rachel Cosgrove CSCS and author of The Female Body Breakthrough says, “Strength training is the world’s most effective anti-aging drug.”
5. Brain boost. According to a 2010 study, routinely lifting weights improves memory, cognition, focus, and decision making. Also noted was the positive impact
on those suffering from anxiety, depression, and low self esteem.
6. Metabolism. Simply stated, the more muscle mass we have, the higher the metabolism. So even after you are done exercising, the body continues to torch calories at rest.
7. Additional perks. Balanced hunger, increased energy, toned shape, better posture, and the ability to blast through weight loss and cardio plateaus.
From fat loss to empowerment there seems to be no direct downside to strength training. Lifting weights does not just make you stronger, it makes you healthier, happier, slimmer, and confident.
At first any stimulus will provide a challenge. Over time your will want to increase resistance and variation of movement to prevent your body from adapting. Both by changing your rep range and intensity. If you are new to strength training an easy start is with simple bodyweight movements. Be sure to incorporate these seven basic movements: Squat, lunge, push, pull, bend, twist, and single leg movements for an entire body workout.
Of course strength training won’t eliminate all health problems but I ensure you that there is not a system in your body that will not be positively affected by picking up something heavy. We are always here to point you in the right direction. Get outside, get moving, start lifting, and most importantly have fun!