Not Just for Arnold: 5 Ways Strength Training Benefits Your Body
Image credit: Flickr by Roonb
We’ve been hearing it for years now: Everyone – young, old, man, woman, athletic, disabled – should do some strength training. It makes sense. Strength training is nothing more than adding resistance to your movements, forcing your body to push and pull harder, which strengthens the muscles and bones while providing a host of other benefits. Rather than jump full throttle into a program, start by understanding what you need to work, and how often, then create a plan for yourself. Three days a week is a good start. Always listen to your body. Challenge yourself, but if you are in serious pain, stop! Many people have become injured thinking a pain sensation was simply “something to push through.” You don’t need to push too hard; consistency alone will do wonders for your body. Here are some of the amazing benefits of strength training:
5 Increase Thermogenesis
Once you start to tear down your muscles through training, they build again, only stronger for perceived future increased use, hence their growth and increased strength. Because muscle burns four times as many calories as fat, your calorie burn will increase significantly for each pound of fat that you “replace” with muscle. This helps keep your body humming throughout the day, utilizing your nourishment more efficiently and allowing you to indulge without storing it immediately as fat, or causing “food hangovers.”
4 Boost Mood
Mood swings tend to be directly correlated to the hormones, which are also affected by blood sugar. Exercise utilizes the extra glucose and regulates the hormones by stimulating the body into “active” mode. When we are inactive all day, the body is left to simply “survive,” eating at random times, expending little energy, storing, and becoming unbalanced through unhealthy foods and irregular activity. By strength training, it now has to spring to attention, heal, and build muscles and regulate hormones more efficiently, meaning your mood swings will be brought to an equilibrium – most of the time, anyway.
3 Regulate Hormones
By increasing blood flow and muscle mass, your body begins to balance your hormones more effectively and releases “good mood” hormones. Testosterone increases in both men and women, which can be good for both sexes, particularly if you have more estrogen in your body than you need. It also lowers cortisol, a stress hormone that can wreak havoc on your body and brain. Exercising regularly will help in all aspects of hormone regulation.
2 Increase Heart Health
Increasing your heart health is another benefit of strength training. When we use our muscles, we are actually squeezing blood through our body via the contraction of the muscles. This helps circulation, which increases nutrient assimilation, organ function, and detoxification. Rather than allow the heart to do the full job while we sit for hours on end, we are greatly assisting the heart and all of its functions by helping the pumping process.
1 Build Bone Mass
By adding resistance to your movements you are placing extra stress on your muscles and joints, and this causes your body to compensate for the new added weight by increasing your bone density. This is an excellent thing considering so many of us have weakening bones in this day and age of little “needed” exercise (we’re not wrestling animals, climbing trees, swimming in lakes, and putting up shelters anymore … as much, anyway). Women are particularly susceptible to osteoporosis, even at an early age, and strength training during youth is a wonderful way to avoid this affliction.