Weight lifting isn’t just about building muscle mass or looking ripped—although that’s a nice perk. Strength training may actually be a secret weapon for hitting your other health goals because the benefits of lifting weights extend across both your physical and mental well-being.
Physical Health Benefits of Lifting Weights
Sure, resistance training is great for bodybuilders, but research increasingly shows that the regular Jane or Joe can enjoy significant physical health benefits as well.
1. Increased Strength
Most people can quickly point out the primary physical benefit of weight lifting: getting stronger. If you don’t use your muscles, they will grow weaker. Increased strength does more than just allow you to lift heavier objects. It allows you can walk longer, take the stairs without sucking wind, or simply function in day-to-day tasks easier.
2. Lower Abdominal Fat
As people go through middle-age years, they tend to put on extra pounds. Often that extra weight settles around the midsection. Abdominal fat (also known as visceral fat) sits in the abdominal cavity around the organs and is linked to a variety of health problems.
A 2014 Harvard study found that strength training was more effective at preventing abdominal fat gain than cardiovascular exercise.
3. Better Endurance
There is a correlation between muscle strength and endurance, as shown by a Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research study that reported that strength training increases muscles’ endurance time to exhaustion. This is not only good news for those who participate in endurance sports like swimming, running, cycling, and cross-country skiing but for anyone who wants to exercise longer without muscles giving out.
4. Stronger Bones
At about age 30, people start to lose a little bone density each year. Resistance training helps bones stay strong by stimulating the body to produce proteins and move minerals to the bone. This can help prevent osteoporosis and promote better bone health as you age.
5. Boosted Metabolism
Muscle burns more calories than fat, so the more muscle you have the more calories you will burn, even when resting. Boosting metabolism is especially appealing as people age and metabolisms naturally slow.
6. Maintain Weight Loss
Most people think of cardio when they want to lose weight, but because it speeds up your metabolism, strength training is a key component to long term weight management. In other words, cardio is great for losing weight short term, while resistance training is important for managing your weight permanently.
7. Controlled Blood Sugar Levels
Research shows that lifting weights not only builds muscle, it also improves the muscle's ability to take in and use glucose, or blood sugar. Therefore, strength training is encouraged for anyone with type 2 diabetes to help control blood sugar levels.
8. Prevention of Age-Related Muscle Loss
After middle age, adults lose an average of three percent of their muscle strength every year. This age-related muscle loss is called sarcopenia. Regularly lifting weights not only prevents muscle loss, it can help reverse it.
9. Reduced Fall Risk
Less muscle mass and weaker muscles often go hand in hand with less mobility, which increases your risk of falls and associated fractures. A huge benefit of lifting weights, especially for the elderly, is greater muscle strength and better balance. Both can help you stay on your feet and avoid falls and possible broken hips, legs, arms, wrists, etc.
10. Ward Off Chronic Disease
Regular activity has been shown to be a factor in keeping chronic lifestyle diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis at bay. In addition, strength training improves blood pressure, triglyceride levels, and HDL levels. It also helps you stay fit, which improves your chances of resisting chronic disease in general.
Mental Health Benefits of Lifting Weights
It’s clear that resistance training is good for the body. As you can see from these next five benefits, it’s also good for your mind and mood
11. Boosted Brain Health
Believe it or not, strength training can improve cognitive function, especially in older adults. This benefit may come as a result of increased blood flow, oxygen, and other nutrients to the brain.
12. Helps with Depression
Depression is a common condition in the U.S. A clinical trial analysis published in 2018 concluded that resistance training significantly reduced depressive symptoms among adults. So for those who struggle with depression, lifting weights can help.
13. Increased Confidence
Another benefit of lifting weights is increased confidence. People set goals, can see their progress as they are able to lift heavier weights or do more reps, and regularly achieve new personal bests. They also discover they can do hard things. All of these boost confidence.
14. Reduces Anxiety
Although it hasn’t yet been studied in-depth, new research shows that strength training seems to help reduce anxiety, as well as keep it from escalating. What’s more, this benefit was enjoyed across a wide range of populations.
15. Elevated Body Image
Consistent weight lifting helps with self-esteem and body image. According to researchers who studied the effects of strength training among middle-aged and older women, that elevated body image occurs regardless of the actual results of the weight lifting. They concluded that feelings of accomplishment, as well as improvements in mental health and energy levels, are the likely factors for improved overall body image.
Is It Time to Add Lifting Weights to Your Fitness Routine?
The physical and mental health benefits of lifting weights go beyond the 15 that we’ve covered. Strength training can also:
- Improve posture
- Reduce inflammation
- Help you sleep
- Improve mobility
- Increase flexibility
- Extend your lifespan
With all these advantages, it’s no wonder the Department of Health and Human Services recommends adults incorporate strength-training into their fitness routines at least twice a week. Combined with regular cardio, strength training can give you the extra kick to reach your fitness goals.
If making it to the gym is difficult, then bring the gym to your home and office. Xtreme Elite makes it easier to get fit on your terms with comfortable, convenient, and effective home fitness equipment. Contact Xtreme Elite today.