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Good Reasons to Add Strength Training to Your Exercise Routine

StrengthTrainingJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

A well-balanced weekly workout routine should include muscle strength and endurance training, as well as aerobic activity and flexibility exercises. Those who are reluctant to start strength training generally cite a variety of reasons, including feeling unfamiliar with or intimidated by weight machines; lack of knowledge regarding proper technique; and a misguided fear of gaining muscle bulk. Maxing out muscle size, which requires specialized and intense training and appropriate nutrition, is definitely not on everyone’s agenda. For those who want to meet their health goals by toning and strengthening major muscle groups, resistance training can be customized to meet each person’s objective. As muscle mass naturally decreases with age, strength training can help increase and maintain lean muscle tissue.

As a conditioning exercise, strength training uses resistance to oppose the force generated by muscles through concentric contractions, which cause tension in the muscle as it shortens, and eccentric contractions, the motion of an active muscle when it is lengthening under load. This can be accomplished through a variety of formats, such as the use of machine weights, free weights and resistance bands, as well as one’s own body weight. By definition, muscle strength, or how much weight you can lift, is the maximum amount of force a muscle can produce in a single effort. Muscular endurance, or how long you can lift, is the ability of the muscle to continue to perform without fatigue. Together strength and endurance provide the power and capacity of muscle and connective tissues to undergo stress and strain in order to pull, push, stretch, extend and flex various joints. As well, a strong muscle base is necessary for all movement, balance, coordination and injury prevention.

Science backed benefits of strength training:

Improved bone strength: Aging, inactivity and inadequate nutrition gradually reduce bone mass, resulting in a one-to-three percent reduction in bone mineral density each year after age 40. Numerous studies have shown that strength training can play a role in slowing bone loss and can even help build bone. As strength training and other weight bearing exercise produce stronger muscles, it can also lead to stronger, denser bones, thereby minimizing the risk of fractures resulting from even minor falls. Resistance moves that emphasize power and balance, such as lunges or squats, enhance both strength and stability, helping to prevent falls and fractures.

Lowered abdominal fat: A 2014 study published in the journal, Obesity, that followed 10,500 men for 12 years, found that strength training is more effective than aerobic training at preventing increased abdominal or visceral fat  Strength training increases muscle mass, a key determinant of basal metabolic rate. Metabolic rate is the number of calories the body burns daily to sustain physiologic functions. Strength training results in muscle and connective tissue microtrauma, which requires caloric energy for repair, resulting in increased metabolism. By boosting metabolism the body burns calories more efficiently, as it takes more energy to use and maintain muscle tissue than fat tissue.

Reduced risk of heart attack and stroke: A long term study of over 12,500 men and women in midlife found that the risk of heart attack and stoke were dramatically lower in those that lifted weights occasionally, as compared to those who never did. The researchers found substantial heart health benefits associated with just a small amount of resistance exercise. Although the results showed only that people who lift weights occasionally happen to have healthier hearts, it also revealed associations between weightlifting and a lower body mass index (BMI). Strength-training can help reduce the pressure on the walls of the heart and lower blood pressure over the long term, which also contributes to reduced risk of heart disease and stroke.

  • Increased blood flow and range of motion gained through strength training can help to decrease joint pain and stiffness associated with arthritis.
  • Resistance training helps to improve insulin sensitivity and increases the muscles’ ability to store glucose, allowing for better regulated blood sugar levels in those with type 2 diabetes.
  • Challenging high-intensity strength training supports better mood, improves mental resiliency and increases the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients to the brain, supporting overall healthy brain function.
  • In addition to increased muscle strength and performance, resistance training increases the strength of tendons, collagen fibrils and connective tissues, helping to reduce injury risks.
  • By taking the joints through their full range of motion during strengthening exercises, the range of motion increases over time.
  • A 2015 study of mature women showed that consistent strength training improved perceived physical appearance, elevating body image.

While strength training may force us to step out of our comfort zones, it can bring a host of health benefits. By increasing muscle and bone strength and supporting range of motion of joints, resistance training can help older individuals to stay active and independent. Overall fitness enables one to perform daily tasks, supporting long-term health and quality of life, as we age.

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TMRFIT Series Clean...TRMFIT ®Series Clean Post Workout Canister by Trace Minerals Research: This clean, carefully formulated, supercharged all-in-one concentrated formula supports hydration, strength, endurance, circulation and muscle growth, repair and recovery, as well as reduced post-workout fatigue after intense training. Ingredients include BCAAs, electrolytes, beet root powder, l-glutamine and over 75 naturally occurring ionic trace minerals sourced from the Great Salt Lake. Free of gluten and artificial colors, flavors and sweeteners. Non-GMO vegan formulation.

11 Benefits of Strength Training That Have Nothing to Do With Muscle Size. https://health.usnews.com/wellness/fitness/articles/2018-03-23/11-benefits-of-strength-training-that-have-nothing-to-do-with-muscle-size
Strength training builds more than muscles. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/strength-training-builds-more-than-muscles
Benefits of Physical Activity. https://olin.msu.edu/healthpromo/exercisefitness/activebenefits.htm
Even A Little Weight Training May Cut the Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/04/well/move/even-a-little-weight-training-may-cut-the-risk-of-heart-attack-and-stroke.html