Yeah, we know strength training builds muscle, but really, why is that important? Here are 10 reasons why you should be incorporating strength training into those daily workouts, and no, I'm not talking about those measly, little, pink 2lb weights sitting in a basket next to the weight rack... Yes, you know who you are. I am talking about really lifting some weight. Gals, some of you avoid the dumbbells like the plague out of fear that you will bulk up into one of those "manly, body building" types. Well, first of all, you physiologically cannot look like Popeye unless you are using and consuming some very unsafe substances. Females do not have the hormones to produce muscle mass in that fashion naturally. Secondly, those "body building" girls that are in natural shows and truly train naturally look amazing! See previous post of Angie Gooding below who competes in the sport. I do not think any of you could argue that her body is amazing and it took lots of hard work, discipline, and some serious weight training to get it that way. Read on for 10 reasons I believe every person should hit the weight room.
1. Increase Strength- Duh, we knew that, right? Think about every day functional activities though. For example, carrying your kids, lifting those Costco boxes out of your trunk, getting those boxes stacked in your garage- they all become much easier if we regularly strength train. This gets even more important as we get older. Bending down to tie your shoes can become difficult. Where's Jack LaLanne when I need him?
2. Healthy Bones- Research shows that weight training can improve your bone mineral density by as much as 13 percent in just six months. This really becomes critical as women age to help minimize their risk of developing osteoporosis. "Help, I've fallen and can't get up" really is a true statement if we do not consider keeping those bones strong. It will not become funny anymore when we really cannot get up.
3. Strengthens The Heart- Weight training can keep your heart healthy by increasing your HDL ("good") cholesterol levels and lowering both LDL ("bad") cholesterol and blood pressure. Too many people are on medications for cholesterol and blood pressure when we really can control these health issues by making better health decisions.
4. Lose Fat- Each pound of muscle you gain can burn up to 50 extra calories a day. Muscle burns more calories than fat at rest therefore increasing your resting metabolic rate. We all could appreciate losing a little fat at rest, right? A little extra effort and focus on your fitness plan with weight training = your body doing its job at rest. Sounds good to me!
5. Improve Performance- We all have an inner athlete in us. Yes, you may have to pry a little deeper to find that calling, but you do. Hitting the weights on a regular basis can improve your overall performance in sport and decrease your risk of injury. Extra strength can power up your drive on the golf course and reduce the risk of injuries on the ski slopes. I really wish I would have done more serious weight training at a younger age as well. Maybe I would have saved these decrepit knee joints a little?
6. Keeping That Body Healthy- You know strength training builds stronger muscles, but did you know it also increases joint stability by strengthening ligaments and tendons? A stronger joint helps prevent injury and eases the pain of osteoarthritis. I always hear people using their joints as an excuse NOT to do strength training, and although there are certain exercises you need to avoid, it is imperative that you do strength train to help alleviate the stress and pain of those previous injuries. Take it from me! I have had four knee surgeries and still play HARD!
7. Ward Off Type 2 Diabetes- Research has shown that regular weight training can improve glucose utilization (the way the body processes sugar) in the body by 23 percent in just four months. This may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
8. Age Is Irrelevant- It does not matter how old your are; strength improvements are possible at any age, even 80+ years old! Tosca Reno is a fabulous role model for healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle (see my favorites link for some of her resources) and she got a late start, not starting this lifestyle until after 40. She is a force to be reckoned with.
9. Improves Sleeping Patterns- You are less likely to suffer from insomnia if you regularly strength train. Go get yourself dog tired from some good workouts (within reason...do not go break down the body too much) and you will notice that you sleep much better. My family cannot seem to wake me after a few good days of tiresome workouts. That is good in my case as my husband will have to tend to the morning routine with the kiddos... Yipeee!
10. Improves Self-Image- People who strength train can boost their self confidence and body image while reducing the risk of depression. If we look good, feel strong, and feel good, then we enhance the other various components of health. My motto: Healthy bodies lead to healthy minds!
Now go hit the weight room! Utilize a professional to help introduce proper form and safety if you are new to weight training. Sometimes it is well worth the money to hire a personal trainer for a session or two just so they can help show you how to properly use equipment and properly execute exercises. You can also make an appointment at your local YMCA to help introduce you to that scary weight room place. There are plenty of resources out there, so go take your health by the reigns and make it happen.
Best in health-