Strength Training...No Prescription Needed!
Everyone knows that being active is important. People often focus on exercises like walking, running, biking, or hiking, but did you know that strength training is just as important? In fact, the CDC recommends two strength training session weekly as part of the physical activity guidelines for Americans. Is that enough to reap the benefits? A recent review article confirmed the health benefits of incorporating strength training just twice a week.
As adults, we lose 3-8% muscle mass with each passing decade. Strength training has been shown to slow, stop and even reverse this process. That alone should be enough reason for strength training, but let me give you a few more great reasons to make it happen!
Improved performance at other activities
Are you a runner who’s training for your first 5k or your second marathon? Do you love hiking and are trying to hike all of the 4,000 footers? Do you have a highly physical job where you are frequently lifting heavy objects? Or are you a mother (super woman) who is constantly lifting a million things at once? Strength training will be beneficial in all of these situations. Having a strong lower body and core enables you to run and hike more efficiently and helps prevent injuries. Improved strength makes it easier when lifting and moving and helps prevent injuries from poor form and overuse by improving muscle strength, balance and coordination.
Help prevent and reverse chronic diseases
Do you have a family history of heart disease? Maybe you were recently diagnosed with diabetes and want to make a change. Does arthritis run in your family and you would like to prevent it? Along with a healthy diet, strength training can help to both prevent and reverse some chronic conditions. It improves glycemic control and increases insulin sensitivity, increases high-density lipoprotein (HDL - known as good cholesterol), helps reduce pain from arthritis, and reduces the risk of bone fractures by increasing bone density. There is even some thought that it can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Are you looking for a healthy and fun way to get in shape and lose some extra weight? Have you recently lost some weight and need help keeping it off? Or do you simply want to maintain your current healthy weight? Consuming a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, complex carbohydrates and lean protein is always the best method for weight management, but adding strength training is a great way to help. Increased muscle mass boosts your basic metabolic rate (BMR) and, therefore, you burn more calories. After your workout, your body will go into a muscle recovery phase where you will continue to burn more calorie even after you’ve stopped. This is referred to by some trainers as “after-burn”. The length of this period is directly related to the intensity of the workout.
Improve your mood, boost your energy level, and sleep better
As the days get shorter and we are exposed to less sunlight, many people experience a physical reaction to this. Some people feel a lack of energy, are frequently tired or a little down. Exercise has been shown to reduce anxiety, stress and depression while boosting self-esteem and cognitive function. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which are hormones that improve the way you feel. Strength training releases these hormones. In addition, exercising during the day aids in a restful night of sleep.
Strength training is one piece to building a healthy and happy life. Each piece connects to and depends upon the others. For more help fitting these pieces together, visit us at enhancehealth.org.