Strength: An Investment In Your Health and Longevity
How about for health and longevity?
Strength training has innumerable benefits including performance enhancement and aesthetic improvement, but arguably the most valuable aspect of resistance training is its effect on your long-term health.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States(2). According to the CDC, the most common risk factors associated with heart disease are high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, diabetes, obesity, and genetics (1).
While you can’t change your genetic predispositions, resistance training can help mitigate other risk factors and drive your future in a healthier direction.
Why resistance training over other forms of exercise?
- It’s the best “bang for your buck.” Consider this: if you only have 2 hours each week to dedicate to exercise, resistance training will give you a greater return on investment than cardio alone. This is because your body will adapt to the demands you place on it. By sticking to cardiovascular exercise, your body learns that it needs to become better at conserving energy. So while cardio does yield positive results (fat loss and improved endurance, for example), at some point, you have to either push harder or go for longer to get the same outcome. When training with weights, however, your coach can change the stimulus to avoid plateaus without affecting your time investment. Additionally, if you’re only doing cardio, your muscle gain won’t happen at the same rate as it would if you were resistance training. The risk of developing diseases like Type 2 Diabetes and hypertension is correlated not just with body weight but, more importantly, with body fat percentage (2). Resistance training, therefore, is the most efficient way to change your body composition by simultaneously reducing body fat and increasing muscle mass.
- Having more muscle on your body allows you to burn more calories at rest because muscle is metabolically “more expensive” to maintain than body fat. The food you eat is then more likely to be used to restore your body’s muscle glycogen and repair muscle tissue, allowing your body to more efficiently use circulating blood sugar (3).
- A consistent exercise routine teaches your body to better regulate your blood pressure. Resistance training is an excellent way to control how hard and long your working sets are. We can also manipulate rest intervals between sets to progressively adapt your body to higher work capacity and faster recovery both in and outside of the gym.
- Strength training protects your joints, keeps your bones strong and can positively affect your balance, proprioception and bone density (4). Unilateral strength training should be a priority in everyone’s workout routine, especially those above the age of 65 as a practical means of fall prevention.
- There is no prerequisite to start training. Contrary to what you may think, you don’t have to already be in shape to lift weights. A qualified coach or trainer can design workouts specifically for you and your body to progress you from A to B in an efficient and effective way.
By incorporating strength training into your weekly routine, you set yourself up to stay healthier, stronger, and more physically resilient for longer.
B.S., NASM CPT