Resistance training, also known as strength training or weight training, is the use of resistance and muscular contraction to increase the strength, endurance and size of muscles. When you perform resistance training repeatedly and consistently, your muscles will become stronger. A well-rounded strength program should include weight training to help improve bone and joint function, as well as increasing muscle, tendon and ligament strength. Experts in the field recommend that in order to see results, individuals should perform muscle strengthening activities at least two days per week. Individuals should also vary their resistance training program every four to six weeks to maintain improvement.
Throughout the years, many studies have been done to show the benefits of resistance training. One of the many physical benefits that can be achieved through strength training includes the improvement in muscle strength and tone. The improvement in muscular strength will help to protect joints from injury while maintaining flexibility and balance which can help individuals remain independent as they age. Other known benefits of resistance training include weight management and an increased muscle-to-fat ratio. As you gain muscle, your body burns more calories at rest, which in return, may help prevent mental decline in aging individuals. Resistance training will improve muscular stamina, sleep, and can also aid in the prevention of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, depression, and obesity. Lastly, it has been shown that frequent bouts of resistance training will aid in pain management, improve resting improve posture and decrease the risk of injury. Resistance training will also improve an individual’s overall sense of wellbeing by boosting self-confidence, improving body image and vigor, increasing self-esteem, and enhancing the performance of everyday tasks.
According to a recent study, inactive adults experience a 3% to 8% loss of muscle mass per decade, accompanied by fat accumulation. However, ten weeks of resistance training can increase lean weight by 3 lbs., and reduce fat weight by 4 lbs. Researchers also found that ten weeks of resistance training creates a drastic improvement on motor control, balance, functional independence, cognitive abilities and happiness. According to the study, resistance training may also assist with type 2 diabetes by decreasing overall body fat, and improving insulin sensitivity. Researchers also found that resistance training may enhance cardiovascular health, by reducing resting blood pressure and decreasing cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Individuals who decide not to participate in strength training are at a greater risk for disease. It is known that sedentary individuals will suffer from declining health with increased risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, depression and lowered self-esteem. Research shows that individuals who do not strength train regularly, will lose about half a pound of muscle every year of their lives after the age of 30. Unless individuals implement a safe and effective weight training program, muscles will gradually decrease in size and strength in a natural process called atrophy. Also, body fat percentage will increase, lean muscle percentage will decrease, blood pressure and heart rate will increase, and cholesterol levels will increase. Without a safe and effective weight training program, an individual’s range of motion and flexibility decreases, overall strength and power decreases, lung function decreases, and bone mineral density decreases. That half a pound of muscle loss every year after the age of 30 produces a one-half percent reduction in basal metabolic rate every year. A reduction in basal metabolic rate means that our bodies are less able to use the food we consume as energy, thus more gets stored as body fat.
If research has proven that exercise could benefit your heart, improve your balance, strengthen your bones, and help you lose weight, wouldn’t you want to get started? As stated above, studies have shown that strength training can provide all of those benefits and more. Weight training and aerobic training are not just about bodybuilders and Division I athletes lifting heavy weights in a gym. Weight training and aerobic training can benefit men and women of all ages and may be particularly important for people with certain health issues such as arthritis, diabetes, or a heart condition. Hopefully by now, you have realized that resistance training should be an important part of your daily routine, and it is important to remember that weight training provides many important benefits that cannot be achieved by any other activity.