5 Benefits of Strength Training
Weightlifting has a bad (and incorrect) reputation. Chances are when you think of weightlifting, you think of bodybuilders with larger-than-life arms, grunting as they stare at themselves in the mirror, lifting a million pound barbell above their heads. And while that is a type of strength training, that is not the type of weightlifting experts recommend for an overall healthy lifestyle. Let’s clear things up and talk about some of the benefits of strength training that have nothing to do with big muscle.
Regulated Blood Sugar
Muscle cells have transporters that systematically pick-up glucose from the blood and deposit it into the muscle cells. Therefore, when you increase your muscle mass through strength training, those transporters are picking up a lot more sugar from your blood, thereby decreasing blood sugars.
The effect of strength training on blood sugar levels is so advantageous that many physicians encourage anyone with type 2 diabetes to take part in a training routine.
Lowered Risk of Injury
Weak muscles put additional stress on surrounding tendons. When tendons are stressed, tendonitis is often the result. According to the 2015 International Journal of Sports Physical therapy, strength training has an added benefits to the health of tendons by increasing the number and diameter of collagen in tendons, making them stronger.
Our bodies naturally lose muscle mass as we age unless we do something to counteract it. Weak muscles also contribute to poor balance, often a contributing factor in unfortunate falls that can result in serious injuries as we age.
A common misconception is that strength training results in tight and sore muscles. Well, the sore factor might be (temporarily) true but studies have shown that certain strength training exercises can actually improve flexibility better than static stretches. In 2006, the North America Journal of Sports Physical Therapy studied the effects of eccentric strength training on flexibility. The study showed that stretches that emphasize muscle lengthening (eccentric) such as the lowering phase of a squat or lunge, improved hamstring flexibility.
Muscle loss isn’t the only thing we lose as we age; bone density loss is just as likely to occur and affects women more than men. How does strength training strengthen bones? Well, strength training is the contraction and lengthening of muscles, and each time your muscle contracts it is lightly tugging at the bone it is connected to. The bones cells that feel that tug are stimulated to produce additional cells and proteins in the bone. This results in better bone density, which again becomes increasingly important as we age and are prone to falls. Stronger bones are far less likely to break.
If you haven’t been sold yet on the non-muscle related reasons you should be strength training, try this one. Strength training is more effective at preventing abdominal fat that cardio. Boom. Want to get rid of your gut? Increase your muscle mass, which will burn more calories and result in fat loss.
Putting self-image aside, abdominal or visceral fat is dangerous and a leading cause of poor cardiovascular health.
This is an impressive list of benefits bodies experience when strength training. But it doesn’t stop here. There are other important benefits such as better mental health, reduced risk of cancer, better life span and overall better quality of life.
Of course, the benefits of strength training will fall short on you if you practice bad form that results in injuries. If you are new to strength-training or have pre-existing injuries, please consult a fitness professional for tips and guidance before you begin. We want you to succeed and a key factor in that is being safe.