Strength training – also known as weight training or resistance training – provides a multitude of benefits for your whole body. You’re probably already aware that it can help you lose or maintain weight, increase your strength, make you stronger, help you get fitter, and strengthen your bones.
But did you know that the benefits of strength training reach beyond just keeping you in shape? Here are some unexpected benefits of strength training that you may not be aware of.
Better Body Mechanics
Aside from strengthening your bones and muscles, strength training can also benefit your balance, posture, and coordination. According to one study, older people who are at a higher risk of falling due to worse physical functioning reduced this risk of falling by 40% with strength training compared to individuals who did not participate in any such physical activity.
Burns More Calories – Even While Resting
You know that you burn a good amount of calories during strength training. In fact, for a lot of people, the primary purpose of strength training is to burn more calories. However, taking part in strength training can increase the number of calories you burn even while your body is resting. Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) – more commonly known as afterburn – is an aftermath of working out that causes your body to burn more calories as your body transitions to a resting state. The more intense your workout, the longer it will take for your body to return to a resting stage ultimately; therefore, the more calories you’d burn. Regularly working out boosts your metabolism, which further contributes to a higher number of calories burned.
If you have diabetes, taking part in strength training may help your condition. According to a meta-analysis/review of 1- clinical trials, high-intensity resistance training improved glycemic control and muscle strength in elderly patients (mean age: 66 years) with type 2 diabetes. Resistance training caused a significant reduction in HbA1c (0.50%) and increased muscular strength by 38%.
The study was concluded by saying, “…Decreased muscle mass compromises glycemic control as skeletal muscle plays an important role in glucose clearance from blood vessels and storage. Moreover, muscular strength and muscle mass decrease with aging, so that it is important for diabetic patients, especially diabetic elders, to increase both their muscular strength and muscle mass through [resistance training], in particular high-intensity training.”
Improves Bone Density and Health
According to results from the LIFTMORE study, published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, high-intensity resistance and impact training can improve bone density, structure, strength, and functional performance in postmenopausal women. Twice-weekly sessions of 30-minute strength training resulted in a significant improvement within just eight months. Areas that saw a positive change include lumbar spine and femoral neck bone density and femoral neck cortical thickness and height in women.
Helps Manage Chronic Disease
Various studies have documented the wellness benefits of strength training. This includes helping some people manage some chronic diseases. In fact, strength training can be as effective as medication in decreasing arthritis pain. However, one should not depend on strength training to manage such conditions. Instead, it should be treated as an addition to medication and should be performed after consulting your doctor.
Reduced Risk of Colon Cancer
A research study surveyed and followed over 215,000 adults over the span of 6-7 years to study the effects of weightlifting on the future risk of developing ten different types of cancer. According to the study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, people who lifted weights every week had a 22 to 25% lower risk of developing colon cancer than those who didn’t lift weights at all. There was also a modest reduction in the risk of developing kidney cancer.
Boost Energy and Mood
Most people aren’t aware of this, but almost any type of physical activity can boost your energy and mood. Yes, it may not seem like it when you’re trying to finish that last set of leg curls that seem to be taking forever. But strength training raises your circulating levels of endorphins – natural opiates produced by the brain. Not only do these improve your mood, but it also increases your overall energy levels. Further study of the body’s neurochemical and neuromuscular responses to strength training has shown that strength training can cause a relatively higher positive effect on the brain.
Helps Manage Anxiety
The anxiolytic effects of strength training are also being documented by researchers. It has been observed that low-to-moderate intensity training – less than 70% of one-repetition maximum – results in the most significant and most consistent decrease in anxiety. It was concluded, “Importantly, anxiolytic effects have been observed across a diverse range of populations and dependent measures. These findings provide support for the use of resistance exercise in the clinical management of anxiety.”
Improves The Quality of Sleep
And yes, strength training can help you sleep better. A study involving older men between the ages of 65 to 80 showed that resistance training significantly improved their sleeping patterns. Moderates sessions of strength training resulted in less awakening and more profound sleep than those who didn’t work out.
As you can see, strength training can improve almost all aspects of your life and result in a better quality of lifestyle. So if you haven’t started strength training yet, there is no better time than to start now.