In a prior blog post I discussed the benefits of being “flexible like gumby”. In this follow up article I want to tell you about several benefits of participating in a regular strength training program.
In high school I was a student of the martial arts. I began taking karate lessons in high school but was still a skinny kid. I wanted a way to develop some strength to really have a “punch” behind my punch, so I started lifting weights.
At first I didn’t enjoy it (because I was sore all of the time) and it didn’t seem to be working, as far as my strength in the dojo was concerned until one night we were “sparring”. For those that don’t know “sparring” can be full speed and contact but with protective gear. This helps one take the skills practiced at slower speeds and put them into action.
That night I landed a right hook to my opponent’s chin that dropped him like a 10 pound sack of flour. It wasn’t that I hit him particularly hard, it was just a fast hook that landed in the right spot (or for him, the wrong spot).
That was when I realized my strength training was paying off. Fast forward several years. I moved away to Lubbock and then Amarillo for physical therapy school and continued to lift weights. At this point it was about getting stronger and packing on some muscle.
So what does this have to do with you and a strength program. For most it is not about “packing on muscle” or taking a man down with one punch but it is about not falling; maintaining independence and improving one’s health.
This is what I will cover today. I am going to review 10 major benefits of strength training as well as give you some tips on getting started.
- Makes you stronger
When you lift weights (whether it is actual weights, sacks of dog food, resistance bands or your own bodyweight) you force your muscles to adapt. The stress imposed on the body forces it to get stronger.
This can help with carrying the groceries, climbing steps or running daily errands. Getting stronger helps to maintain your independence.
- Boost Metabolism
Increasing the muscle mass from lifting weights will help to raise your metabolic rate. Since muscle requires more calories to sustain than fat you will effectively burn more at rest.
As an added benefit, research has shown that the metabolic rate is increased up to 72 hours after strength training. Meaning you continue to burn more calories after the workout has finished.
- Decreases risk of falls
According to the National Council On Aging (NCOA):
One in three adults over the age of 65 will fall this year.
Every 11 seconds someone is treated in the hospital for a fall
Every 19 minutes someone dies from a fall or fall related issues
Performing strength and balance training on a regular basis has shown to have a 34-55% reduction in the number of falls.
- Lowers risk of injury
Strength training not only improves the muscular size and strength but it also helps the tendon and ligaments surrounding the joints which play a major role in support.
By performing regular strength and flexibility training one can reduce or eliminate muscular imbalances that can lead to injury.
For example: often clients come to me with lower back pain. I often find that their hips and thoracic spine are stiff while the “glute and lower back muscles” are weak. This is a bad combination leading to pain and injury.
One study found that strength training reduced the risk of injury by 33%
- Improves heart health
Regular strength training can help to decrease blood pressure. It also improves circulation by strengthening your heart and blood vessels. It can even help lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol.
- Manage blood sugar levels
Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can lead to diabetes and a host of other health issues including heart disease.
Strength training can not only lower your risk for diabetes but also assist in the management of diabetes.
Greater muscle mass will take up more sugar from the blood and shuttle it to the muscle cells, thus lowering your total blood sugar and help to manage it better.
It has also shown a 30% reduction in developing Type II diabetes in women who follow a strength training program compared to those who did not.
- Makes your bones stronger
As a cyclist this is one of the key reasons I lift weights. Cycling is a non-weight bearing sport which combined with excessive mineral loss during sweating can lead to early osteoporosis.
Weight Bearing exercises can help strengthen your bones which reduces your risk of fractures and falls thus leading to a more fulfilling and independent life.
- Boost your mood
Numerous studies have shown the mood boosting benefits of regular exercise.
Strength training can improve self-esteem, self-efficacy as well as release mood-boosting hormones which play a role in happiness and a positive mood.
If you have ever experienced a hard workout or effort you will quickly remember the “high” you had when you were finished.
- Improves Brain Health
This is important as it can help protect against age related cognitive decline.
Scientists call these neuroprotective effects such as improved blood flow, decreased inflammation as well as other chemicals linked to memory and learning.
Several studies have shown the improvements in cognitive functions like (memory, processing speed and higher brain functions) after performing a regular strengthening program compared to those who didn’t.
- Promotes a better quality of life
Ultimately improving the quality of life is what most of us want. Whether that is for ourselves or for a loved one.
Strength training is linked to improved quality of life as defined by physical and mental well being.
In a review of multiple studies the researchers found a significant correlation between resistance training and better mental health, physical function, pain management, general health and vitality.
Multiple studies have also shown the benefits of strength training on improving the quality of life in those who suffer with arthritis.
So how do you start with a strengthening program?
One of the easiest ways and least specific is to search the internet for the thousands of articles and handouts that have prebuilt programs. If you are not in pain and are ok with something generic then give it a go.
Remember these programs are built for the masses and might not specifically address your issue you are trying to correct or take into account past injuries or surgeries.
Actually most have some type of disclaimer
“ Be cautious about starting a strengthening program if you have a chronic condition or injury. If you have any health concerns, speak to your doctor or physical therapist to decide upon the best approach.”
Some of the programs can be very aggressive so start slow and work into it, think P90X or BeachBody infomercials.
Resistance training at least 2-3 days a week is generally recommended. Strengthening exercises can generate a lot of soreness especially if you are really out of shape or get too aggressive, so start slow.
For those that are suffering with pain and are looking for the best way to get pain free and avoid injuries then I recommend working with one of the experts at MOSS Rehabilitation Center.
If you have questions or are new to resistance training we are able to help you get started on the right foot and avoid unnecessary injuries. Once we understand your goals and ideal outcome we will put together a program specific for you and will walk you through the process.
We highly recommend a mix of flexibility and strengthening exercises for maximum benefit. I talked about flexibility HERE. Flexibility without strength and stability can actually result in more pain and injuries.
There has to be a balance.
If you are looking for help with a strengthening program then give us a call at 817-220-MOSS (6677).
We love helping everyday people get back to doing the things they love to do.
At MOSS Rehabilitation Center we make it easy for you to get started. We even have a simple 3 step process.
1. Schedule a FREE NO Obligation, Discovery Visit with one of our experts. During this visit, you will talk with one of our friendly experts about your issues. This is a safe and confidential visit, you can trust that your safety and privacy is important to us. We are taking extra measures to ensure that you remain safe during this pandemic.
2. Receive a Customized (Individualized) Treatment Plan. Based on your free discovery visit, we will put together a custom, unique to you plan that will address all of your nagging pains and issues. The goal is to get you back to your healthy self as soon as possible while also addressing your issues for the long term.
3. Get Your Life Back and Do What You Love. The best result for us is a patient who tells us they can finally do what they love without the constant pain, stress, or issue they were facing. Together we can get you back to living life without worry.
So what do the most successful people do when they have health concerns? They address their problem.
I call it the 3 D’s Principle to handling any problem in life: 1. Don’t Ignore it, 2. Don’t Mask It, 3. Do Something About It.
NEXT ACTION: If you are really serious about your strength start by calling 817-220-6677 today to schedule your FREE NO OBLIGATION Discovery Visit.
To your health,
Dr. Robert Moss PT, ScD, OCS. FAAOMPT