Last week’s article discussed the importance of endurance training and a number of its benefits. Equally as important is strength training. Sometimes referred to as resistance training, this form of exercise develops strength through the use of an external force (or weight) such as a barbell, dumbbells, kettlebells, or one’s own bodyweight. An effective, well-rounded fitness program must incorporate both strength training and conditioning.
As the name suggests, strength training increases strength. While that may not sound significant, developing general strength produces a number of health benefits outside of the gym, especially for those who are advanced in years. Here are a few of those benefits:
Independence. Humans naturally lose muscle mass with age. Left unaddressed, this steady decline in strength will make everyday tasks such as walking, sitting down, sitting up, and picking up objects much more difficult. Strength training improves your ability to carry out everyday tasks, making you a more independent individual.
Increase bone density and strengthen joints. Muscle mass increases through the process of stress and recovery. When training, muscle fibers will develop microscopic tears. The body recognizes this and “patches up” those fibers, resulting in larger muscles. In a very comparable manner, strength training also increases bone density and strengthens joints, reducing the risk of injury outside the gym.
Manage chronic symptoms. In addition to injury prevention, regular strength training can actually reduce the symptoms of common pre-existing chronic conditions. This includes arthritis, back pain, obesity, heart disease, depression, and diabetes.
Weight management. Muscle is an active tissue, meaning it burns calories. An increase in muscle mass can increase your metabolism, which will help you to burn more calories.
Both strength and endurance training have many benefits to offer, and it’s clear that anyone looking to pursue the betterment of their health should incorporate both into their fitness program. Lift your weights and do things that make you breathe hard!
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