Page 1 of 3Lifting weights. Resistance training. Pumping iron. No matter what you call it, strength training is important for boosting the overall health and well-being of people of all ages and fitness levels. While strength training can seem a bit intimidating at first, the health benefits far outweigh any qualms you might have about picking up those weights for the first time.
Not convinced that you should give resistance training a go? Here are 10 reasons to get lifting for your next workout!
1. You'll be better at, well, everything. No, we're not overexaggerating the benefits. The physical act of lifting weights (or other forms of resistance) helps your body to increase its muscle mass, which makes lifting anything—not just dumbbells—easier. So carrying those groceries in? Picking your kids up? Cleaning the house? Walking up stairs? All easier when you lift weights! In addition, regularly lifting weights helps to improve your flexibility, balance and coordination. In fact, strength training has been shown to reduce the risk of falling by 40%, so this type of exercise is good for people of all ages.
2. You'll burn more calories. You probably already know that the physical act of lifting weights burns calories (especially if you do circuit training, which gives you some cardio benefits, too!), but did you know that strength training can help you to burn more calories even when you're not working out? It all goes back to building muscle. It takes more energy (calories) for your body to use and maintain muscle cells than it does fat cells. So by simply lifting weights to add more muscle mass, you're boosting your metabolism and turning your body into a more efficient calorie-burning machine.
3. You'll improve your mood and handle stress better. Ever heard of "runner's high?" Well, it doesn't just apply to running. All forms of exercise, including strength training, have been shown to release endorphins, which make you feel good. In addition, strength training has been shown to decrease tension and anxiety, thereby also making it a great de-stressor. Research shows that fit people have lower levels of stress hormones than sedentary individuals do. Still not convinced? There's even some evidence that weight-bearing exercise can help beat depression. Resistance training is truly good for the body and the mind!
4. You'll help your heart. Strength training is so good for the heart that the American Heart Association recommends it as a top way to keep your heart healthy. Studies show that strength training can help prevent heart disease and can even help reduce risks and problems in individuals who already have heart disease. Furthermore, several studies have found that lifting weights at a moderate intensity can lower bad cholesterol levels and raise good cholesterol levels, boosting heart health. Additionally, research conducted in the College of Health Sciences’ Department of Health, Leisure and Exercise Science at Appalachian State University has shown that resistance training can lower blood pressure by as much as 20%. Researchers say that the healthy heart benefits come from the increased blood flow to the muscles, heart and body.