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Scientific studies and research are continually publishing numerous health benefits of weight training.
They include a wide range of physical and mental benefits.
The message is slowly getting through, and this form of fitness is becoming far more popular than ever before.
No longer is weight training an activity for testosterone-pumped guys, grunting & groaning, whilst wearing stupid baggy trousers and a grotty t-shirt!
Gyms have developed into modern, clean environments with excellent facilities, personal trainers and a mix of male and female clients.
A lot of older guys and girls (unfortunately I put myself in that age-group now) are now lifting weights..
..and they’re reaping the benefits!
Health Benefits of Weight Training
Your reasons for weight training may very well be to improve the way you look, have a bigger chest, sculpted arms, defined abs, or just to tone up.
Lifting weights can certainly change your physique, provided you eat healthily and get enough rest.
But for a lot of people, there are actually more compelling reasons for weight training, which result in significant health benefits.
Increased Bone Density
As we get older we gradually start to lose bone mass.
This is more common in post-menopausal women from age 35 and over, but can also effect men.
It is suggested that women lose approximately 1% of their bone mass each year after the age of 35.
This sounds quite alarming and can cause health issues such as osteoporosis if left unchecked.
Exercise, and particularly weight training, has been shown to reduce and even reverse the rate of bone loss as we get older.
When weight training, the muscles pull against the bone which stimulates the cells into producing more bone.
You can actually increase bone density through lifting weights, rather than losing it!
Helps You to Control and/or Lose Weight
Trying to lose weight the ‘conventional way’ usually involves some sort of aerobic activity such as walking, jogging, cross trainer or biking.
The problem with just aerobic exercise is that you not only lose fat, you also lose muscle.
Muscle-loss causes your metabolism to slow down and so you are more likely to put the weight back on again.
However, incorporating a weight training routine of 2 to 3 times a week, will increase your strength and boost your metabolic rate.
Your body will burn more calories, even when resting, and you’ll lose more weight!
Weight Training Makes You Stronger
Okay, hardly a revelation!
But just by becoming a little stronger you will benefit in a whole host of ways.
Improved strength can help with normal, everyday activities, such as doing jobs around the house, carrying bags or groceries, or simply playing with the kids.
The health benefits are often noticed in the later stages of life.
Some basic weight training for senior citizens in their 70’s 80’s and 90’s can give them the ability to walk again or simply being able to dress themselves.
This can help elderly people keep their independence for much longer and greatly improve their quality of life.
Weight training will also strengthen your core muscles and help prevent minor injuries and back pain.
As a first-responder I regularly attend medical emergencies that involve elderly people. Many of these people have had falls, resulting in broken bones such as hips, shoulders, arms and fingers.
These injuries can literally ruin someone’s life and many end up bed-bound or relying on a wheel chair.
Ensuring our muscles don’t waste away, and by keeping our core muscles strong, we can help prevent these scary falls and subsequent injuries.
Regular, moderate forms of resistance training is all it takes.
Weight Training Gives You More Energy
After finishing a weight training session, you feel ‘uplifted’.
Just like the sensation runners experience after running, known as the ‘runners high’, resistance training releases ‘feel good’ hormones which last for hours after your workout.
You feel more energized, and have a real spring in your step – something that no fad dietary supplement in a bottle can provide.
Working out in the morning is ideal, because it will give you an energy boost to last you throughout the day.
Good for Your Heart
All forms of physical exercise – particularly aerobic exercise have been shown to lower the risk of heart disease and lower high blood pressure.
Current research indicates that weight training can also offer these same health benefits.
Studies have shown that lifting weights help to reduce cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, which could lower your risk of heart disease and having a stroke.
Studies from the University of Sao Paulo have found that spending 3 days a week weight training, can reduce your blood pressure by 11.5% compared to taking prescribed drugs for hypertension.
A Better Quality of Life
The benefits of weight training ultimately lead to a better quality of life.
You will become more self-confident, more independent and be able to achieve much more during the day with your renewed energy.
I have also read studies that show how weight training can help relieve clinical depression – it certainly makes sense.
The phrase ‘weight training’ or ‘resistance training‘ should not send waves of anxiety through your body!
Some light hand weights or a basic dumbbell set is all you need to start, and there are plenty of easy workout routines you can do that incorporate a whole body workout.
Plus you can do so from the comfort of your home.
You can also workout with just your own body-weight.
Push-ups, pull-ups, squats, lunges, tricep-dips can all be performed without any equipment or the need to go to a gym.
It will have such a positive impact on so many areas of your life.. and those around you!