As we age, the risks of muscle loss, bone loss, and fractures increase. The body requires regular maintenance to counteract these risks and for optimal health. It’s essential to build and maintain strong muscles. Whereas aerobic exercise helps strengthen the lungs and heart, strength training enhances stamina and protects the joints and bones from injury.
Muscle building plays a vital role in any fitness routine. It helps enhance muscle tone, improve balance, decrease the risk of injury, and boost overall health. Other less-known benefits include many mental health benefits, such as reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Besides improving cardiovascular health, increasing bone density, and reducing body fat, strength training provides healthy joints & mental well-being, and much more.
What Is Strength Training?
Strength training is an exercise type that enhances your body’s muscular strength, which enables you to perform daily tasks, prevent injury, and improve overall health. It’s one of four types of exercise—in addition to endurance, flexibility, and balance. Strength training includes exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, and lifting weights.
Strength training involves various methods and techniques, including free weights, machine-based training, plyometrics, and functional training, such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and sprint interval training (SIT).
Benefits of Strength Training
Strength training provides a host of physical and mental health benefits. Per the experts, the following are some of the main advantages of strength training.
Increase Muscle Size and Strength
Besides increasing muscle size and strength, strength training also helps boost power—the combination of strength and speed- allowing one to carry on physical activities efficiently and perform better in sports.
Research studies also show that strength training can result in greater muscle growth (known as hypertrophy) when combined with a proper diet and sufficient rest.
Improve Cardiovascular Health
Strength training can strengthen your heart and lungs, therefore, helps improve cardiovascular function. Your heart is a muscle that requires regular exercise to stay healthy and strong like any other muscle.
Regular strength training helps boost aerobic capacity, enabling a person to handle more physical activity for extended periods without feeling worn out. Research studies also show that strength training can lower resting blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and risk of cardiovascular disease.
Increase Bone Density
Strength training can enhance bone density, increase existing bone strength, and reduce overall bone loss by promoting bone growth. Research suggests that for optimal bone-related benefits, do strength training at least twice weekly.
Bone density refers to the amount of minerals in the bones. Adequate bone density helps prevent fractures and other bone-related diseases such as osteoporosis. Aging people should consider including strength training in their exercise routine to maintain bone density.
Stabilize and Protect Joints
Joint health is essential for maintaining an active, independent lifestyle. Unfortunately, knees, hips, and shoulders are vulnerable to injury and disease, like osteoarthritis—particularly as you age. Strength training can enhance the strength and stability of the joints, which can help avoid injuries and improve overall function.
In addition, strength training also improves balance and posture as the joints become stronger.
Reduce Body Fat
Another strength training benefit is abdomen fat reduction, particularly when combined with aerobic exercise and a balanced diet. In addition, research shows that strength training helps burn calories during and after workouts.
Furthermore, strength training can help shed body fat by increasing your metabolic rate. Because muscular tissue is metabolically more active than fat tissue, a person with more muscle tends to have a higher metabolic rate. This increase can improve body composition as well.
Support Mental Well-being
According to a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in the year 2021, strength training can reduce anxiety and depression symptoms, which can help improve mental health.
Strength training can enhance self-confidence, boost mood, and improve brainpower.
Improve Sleep Quality
Research studies suggest strength training helps improve sleep quality, which is important for physical and mental well-being, and so helps decrease fatigue and enhance energy levels throughout the day.
Regular strength training can help ease body stiffness and aches, which will otherwise cause sleep disturbances. This helps your body to achieve a regular sleeping pattern.
Note: You should not perform strength training within two hours before going to bed because workouts can make it harder for some people to fall asleep.
How Often Should You Strength Train?
How often you should train depends on your individual needs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most adults can aim for two days of strength training in a week, completing a total of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week.
Many experts recommend a person should strength train two to three times a week with at least one day of rest between sessions. Targeting all muscle groups during the week would be best, starting with the larger muscle groups like the chest and back.
Risks of Strength Training
When performed correctly, strength training is considered relatively safe. However, experts say its risks are typically due to improper form and technique.
Here form and technique mean the position and movement of your body while performing an exercise. Incorrect or poor form can cause injury. Moreover, it would be best if you progressed gradually – increasing the intensity and the amount of weight used over time for safety, getting optimal health benefits and results.
You may harm your low back, shoulder, neck, knees, or ankles if you use incorrect form and technique. Individuals with any health issues or physical impairments should check with their doctor before starting any strength training.
Quality outdoes quantity in any exercise routine, and your focus should be proper form and safety. Strength training can provide various health benefits when done correctly. Consider taking the help of a qualified fitness instructor or exercise professional to ensure safety and effectiveness.
Is Strength Training Safe?
Strength training is considered a safe form of exercise when done correctly. But it’s important to understand the correct form, proper technique, and safety guidelines to maximize strength training benefits to minimize injuries.
Before starting a strength training routine, check with your healthcare provider to determine if it’s safe for you. Then, begin slowly and gradually increase weight and intensity over time, focusing on correct form and proper technique to cut down the risk of injury.
About Author: Renu Bakshi, AKA Fitness Buffhq – Best Fitness Guru, is ISSA Certified Elite Trainer. He passed Personal Fitness Trainer Course, Nutrition Health Coach course & Specialist Exercise Therapy course from ISSA, the USA, obtaining + 97% marks. He shares his experience and knowledge about nutrition and effective workouts to get you in the best shape of your life, no matter how old you may be. The author says: “For me, age is just a number!”