Fitness Articles

Learn to Love Strength Training

Improve Your Health and Your Appearance

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For every additional pound of muscle you gain, your body will burn about 50 more calories each day. A study by Wayne Westcott, Ph.D., from the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, Massachusetts, showed that a woman who strength trains two or three times a week for eight weeks gains 1.75 lbs of muscle and loses 3.5 lbs of fat.

And Johns Hopkins researchers found that while aerobic exercise burns more calories at the time you are exercising, your metabolism returns to normal about 30 minutes after you finish your workout. Individuals who perform strength training, however, elevate their metabolisms (burn more calories) for two hours after their workouts end.

4. Strength training increases bone density.
A study conducted by Miriam E. Nelson, Ph.D. of Tufts University found that strength training increases both muscle mass and bone density. Dr. Nelson’s research showed that women who lifted weights did not lose any bone density throughout the study, and actually gained an average of 1% more bone mass in the hip and spine. Non-exercising women lost 2% to 2.5% of bone mass during the same period of time.

Another University of Arizona study showed a 3% increase in spine and hip bone mineral density after an 18-month strength training program among women, ages 28 to 39.

5. Strength training counteracts depression.
In a study of 32 men and women who suffered from chronic depression, Nalin Singh, M.D. and Tufts University associates divided the individuals into two groups. They directed half to perform strength training while the other half received health information. After three months, 14 of the 16 members who lifted weights felt better and no longer met the criteria for depression.

A Harvard study also showed that 10 weeks of strength training reduced clinical depression symptoms more successfully than standard counseling alone.

6. Strength training reduces sleep difficulties.
Ten people in Dr. Singh’s strength training group (see reason 5, above) also reported sleep difficulties at the start of the study. After 12 weeks, six of the 10 reported they no longer had trouble sleeping—they fell asleep more quickly, slept more deeply, awakened less often and slept longer.

7. Strength training reduces your risk of diabetes.
Adult-onset (Type 2) diabetes is a growing problem, with over 14 million Americans suffering from the condition. Research shows that strength training can increase glucose utilization in the body by 23% in just four months. As muscles contract and relax during exercise, they use sugar for energy. To meet this energy need, your body uses sugar supplies in your blood, reducing your blood sugar levels.
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About The Author

Leanne Beattie Leanne Beattie
A freelance writer, marketing consultant and life coach, Leanne often writes about health and nutrition. See all of Leanne's articles.

Member Comments

  • These are all interesting reasons and apply to our family in various ways. For me, I especially seem to get soar shoulders as I get a little "older" and strength training helps keep me in better shape and using them better. - 4/14/2016 2:08:44 PM
  • I really liked the 10 reason to keep going. - 3/13/2016 1:49:01 PM
  • When I first returned to SP I did a challenge that had me strength training 6 days a week alternating between different parts of my body. Since then I have done total body strength exercises 3 times a week - it is just part of my routine and I do see the benefits. I do alternate between weights and resistance bands which are also effective from what I have read. Certainly I feel more fit. I probably should ramp up my ST reps more though to continue to see the benefits. A good article and reminder of why strength training is important, especially to those of us who are older. - 3/13/2016 12:09:46 PM
  • EX-SKINNY60
    Surgery 6 weeks old so back to Leslie Sansome and my 1 1/2 lb gloved weights. Glad to have gotten this wake-up call this morning! - 3/9/2016 11:03:36 AM
  • Right now strength training is my weakest area. Thanks for the motivating article. There are lots of ST here on SparkPeople, no excuses. - 3/9/2016 8:29:14 AM
  • Out of sight, out of mind. When I finally put my set of dumbbells in the living room, right in my line of sight by the TV, I was able to stick to my 3 times per week routine, gradually building up the amount of weight lifted and the length of the workout session. - 3/9/2016 6:23:23 AM
  • I strength train every other day. Sometimes I use a stretchie band, sometimes I use weights. What ever I feel like using. I'm aging. . It's important to strengthen the muscles at any age. - 2/23/2016 8:54:22 AM
  • While reading this article, I was using an exercise band for upper body strengthening ;-). Who says you have to 'just sit' at the computer screen?? ;-) THANKS for the fine reminders of the value of strength training, especially as we 'age wisely'-- this 64 year old is making a new resolution on weight training ;-). - 12/19/2015 7:58:30 PM
  • BUDBUDDHA
    This is an excellent article with some information which I didn't previously know. I am limited to what I can do, but at least I should be able to do some exercises. - 9/12/2015 7:29:44 PM
  • still don't like it! geeze. I have to make myself do it. I hate weighs. Rather use stretchy bands - 9/12/2015 5:48:24 PM
  • Yessss, I just started strength training again a couple weeks ago, and I always love how it gives my body such stability with every thing I do. Spark on sparkers! ):) - 8/18/2015 4:03:22 PM
  • I'm very lax at strength training and I know I need it. Just a note, though. Not everyone can lift more than 5 pounds because of physical limitations and medical problems. To say all women should be lifting 15-20 pounds is wrong. I know that right now I can use no more than 5 pounds, but by starting, I'll be doing something. - 8/16/2015 4:54:01 PM
  • What a great article, I learned so much. Since adding multiple days of strength training each week, my body is leaner and I do sleep better. I am a fan of body weight moves, various resistance bands, and lighter dumb bells...up to ten pounds, annnnnd I love that I can do all of this at home! - 8/16/2015 7:38:13 AM
  • Learning to love strength training is a great help indeed! - 8/15/2015 4:37:29 PM
  • I just started in a gym. I am still learning when enough is enough. I go, then next suffer for 2-3 days with soreness. I seem to get into a state of mind that I get lost. Similar to a runners high.Strange. Right now I have a love-hate relationship with the whole thing. LOL! - 8/15/2015 9:53:44 AM

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