How Strength Training Helps Your Health?
Besides the well-known benefits of adding tone and definition to your muscles, how does strength training help to extend your life? Here are just a few of the many ways.
1. How does strength training makes you healthier?
This benefit is the obvious one, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. Muscle strength is crucial in making it easier to do the things you need to do on a day-to-day basis. Especially as we get older and naturally start to lose muscle.
Strength training is also called resistance training. Because it involves strengthening and toning your muscles by contracting them against a resisting force. There are two types of resistance training:
- Isometric resistance involves contracting your muscles against a nonmoving object, such as against the floor in a push-up.
- Isotonic strength training involves contracting your muscles through a range of motion as in weight lifting.
2. How does strength training protect bone health?
At around age 30, we start losing as much as 3 to 5 percent of lean muscle mass per year thanks to aging.
According to a study published in October 2017 in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, just 30 minutes twice a week of high-intensity resistance and impact training was shown to improve functional performance, as well as bone density, structure, and strength in postmenopausal women with low bone mass — and it had no negative effects.
Likewise, the HHS guidelines note that, for everyone, muscle-strengthening activities help preserve or increase muscle mass, strength, and power, which are essential for bone, joint, and muscle health as we age.
3. Why strength training helps to keep you slim?
Aerobic exercise such as walking, running, and cycling is well-known as a way to help increase the number of calories you burn in a day and thereby shed extra pounds. But strength training helps, too (even if you’re not burning a huge number of calories during the workout).
Exercise science researchers suspect strength training is helpful for weight loss because it helps increase your resting metabolism (meaning the rate at which your body burns calories when you’re just going about your day, not exercising).
A good resistance workout increases your excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). Referring to the calories your body continues to burn after a workout. Resistance or strengthening exercise keeps your metabolism active after exercising, much longer than after an aerobic workout.
A study published in the journal Obesity in November 2017 found that, compared with dieters who didn’t exercise and those who did only aerobic exercise, dieters who did strength training exercises four times a week for 18 months lost the most fat. This is about 18 pounds, compared with 10 pounds for non-exercisers and 16 pounds for aerobic exercisers.
A body with a higher muscle mass content consumes more energy even while relaxing. So you burn more fat, for example during sleep.
4. How Strength training develops better body mechanics?
Strength training also benefits your balance, coordination, and posture. One study showed that in older people who are at higher risk of falling (and causing a lot of damage) because of worse physical functioning, strength training reduced the risk of falling by 40 percent compared with individuals who did not do strength-training exercise.
Balance is dependent on the strength of the muscles that keep you on your feet. The stronger those muscles, the better is your balance.
5. How to Balance Strength For Longevity?
Training like an Olympic athlete is not beneficial to live longer. Most athletes have a lifespan below the average. Because they over exhaust their body’s abilities! The short formula for balance training is:
Discomfort yes, pain no
To become stronger, we have to go beyond our usual limits. We have to leave our comfort zone. But not at any price and not to every extent. And certainly not in every intensity and not as linear stress, being permanently overstressed. Because if we experience too long or too much stress, we feel pain.
Pain leads to stress. We will find it very difficult to relax afterward. However, discomfort is not a problem at all. At least not if we know how to relax afterward. And then take a break for recovery.
Therefore, our short formula is: We need discomfort because otherwise, we won’t get stronger. We should avoid pain because otherwise, we tend to become weaker. After pain, recovery gets very difficult because the stress has become permanent.
Apart from the training intensity, also a balance between training and relaxation is necessary.
We have to plan both: Training and relaxation
If you have a training plan, you also need to have a recovery plan. For your health focussed training, this means that if we have a plan for the workout, we also need a complementary relaxation plan.
The recovery begins with a positive reaction to training. The optimal reaction is to have fun during the training, enjoy it as a challenge. Then, allow yourself to relax, at the beginning of 1 or 2 days. As you get stronger, and fitter, 3 to 4 days. Younger people need a shorter time to relax, older longer. Learn to listen to your body.
Practice and train relaxation
Whenever we recover and really relax, we also train to recover at the same time. This supports the physical relaxation process:
- Breathing exercises
- Drink enough water!
- Get enough sleep
- Eat well, but don’t eat too much. Especially not in the evening.
- Enjoy a massage.
But also the mental relaxation is essential, for example:
- Appreciate a sunset
- Listen to good music
- Laugh a lot
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Understand the messages of your body. And, how to act on them for your longevity.