Weight training – also known as weight lifting, strength training and resistance training – is a form of exercise which uses physical resistance and movement to improve the condition of the musculoskeletal system.
Aside from the fact that weight training greatly improves your strength, body shape and confidence, it provides numerous other benefits that I will cover in today’s post.
The popularity of weight training has exploded in the last several decades, and with good reason.
The overwhelmingly sedentary lifestyles and work environments that are commonplace in Western society have caused expanding waistlines and diminishing health in unprecedented numbers.
Weight training – in conjunction with a healthy diet – can help alleviate many of the physical and emotional ills caused by inactivity. Its benefits are many, and include:
Regularly partaking in physical activity, setting, meeting and exceeding goals and seeing one’s health improve all boost self-esteem. An improved body composition (lower body fat and greater lean muscle tone and size) confer more feelings of self-worth than being visibly unhealthy.
Improved strength, inside and out
Though the most apparent results of a successful weight training regime are seen on the outside of the body, progressively improving the musculoskeletal system also strengthens the ligaments, tendons and bones, a process without which the large and visible muscles would fail to perform at their maximum potential. Progressive training provides functional strength from the inside out, a process which translates into an increased capacity for other physical activities.
Less day to day fatigue
As the body grows stronger, it becomes more efficient. Once-tiring tasks take less energy to accomplish because strong muscles can achieve the same outcome with less energy demand than unconditioned ones.
Less time in the bathroom
Poor digestion and elimination is no laughing matter. The human body was designed for movement, and a complete weight training program engages the whole body. According to the Mayo Clinic, physical activity causes the muscles along the intestines to contract more quickly, letting waste pass through the digestive tract faster.
Conversely, a lack of activity results in stool sitting in the body longer, while water is leached away, drying the stool out and causing constipation.
Weight Lifting Improves mood
In addition to the aforementioned benefit of greater self-confidence, weight training’s ability to improve emotional well-being is so powerful that prominent journals and institutions tout it as an effective tool for battling clinical depression, finding it comparable to or better than antidepressants and counseling.
It has also been demonstrated to improve insomnia, chronic fatigue, anxiety and poor cognition (all of which may be related to or experienced in conjunction with depression).
Lift Weights to Lose Weight
The more lean muscle mass an individual has, the higher their metabolic rate. Muscle tissue is metabolically active and consumes calories; fat, on the other hand, does not. A healthy reduction in body fat – particularly abdominal fat, which has been shown to release inflammatory compounds linked to a number of diseases – can reduce the risk of mortality and infirmity from numerous ailments. Despite what most people think, weight training can be just as effective as cardio at burning off those unwanted calories.
Decreased risk of osteoporosis and arthritis.
When physical loads (progressively and within reason) are placed on bones during physical exercise, bone mineral density improves, decreasing the risk of breakage. Additionally, weight training can reduce the hallmark symptoms of arthritis – stiffness and joint pain – as effectively as or better than medication, according to research from Tufts University.
Better blood sugar
Tens of millions of individuals – more than fourteen million in America alone – suffer from Type II diabetes.
This disease is a leading cause of blindness, neuropathy, amputation, renal disease and heart disease.
Research shows – demonstrated in a 16 week-long study of men and women of Hispanic descent – that weight training dramatically improves glucose control in a manner comparable to diabetes medication.
As well, study participants showed increased strength, improved body composition, more self-confidence and less depression.
Build a healthy heart Muscle
The risk of heart disease is lower in people with greater lean body mass. Studies on cardiac patients show that aerobic capacity (as well as strength and flexibility) improves when weight training is incorporated into rehabilitation programs.
The benefit is so significant that the American Heart Association recommends this type of exercise as a preventive measure against heart disease and as part of cardiac patient rehabilitation programs.
The benefits of weight training are too great and too many to ignore. There is no shortage of resources, information and support. It is a healthy and enjoyable activity in which almost anyone can participate. Get lifting!