Strength training has numerous health benefits, especially for older adults, yet few Americans participate in resistance training of any kind. The benefits include improving your balance, burning fat, building muscle, preventing disease, and reducing pain. You can achieve these results with just two sessions per week.
You can use multiple training modalities to achieve positive results, such as circuit training, HIIT, free weights, machines, and more.
Strength training offers tremendous health benefits in as little as two weekly sessions.
If you are new to strength training, you must work with a professional who can teach you how to perform the exercises safely and correctly.
The many benefits of strength
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, distributed by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise and two days of muscle-strengthening sessions per week. Despite this recommendation, only 30.2% of Americans meet the strength requirement, according to The American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Strength training is critical as you age because, without it, you lose muscle, your metabolism slows down, and your risk for falls and chronic disease increases each year.
Here are five reasons to incorporate strength training into your workout routine:
1. Increases balance and coordination
According to the CDC, 800,000 Americans are hospitalized yearly due to falls, and 1 in 5 falls result in serious injuries. Sarcopenia – the age-related loss of muscle tissue and strength contributes significantly to this issue. Regular strength training for older adults is vital to maintain muscle mass and fight this process. Building a muscular physique increases strength, balance, and coordination, which helps prevent falls and related injuries and keeps you healthy as you age. In addition, prioritizing strength enables more active time spent with kids and grandkids, helps you keep up with chores like grocery shopping, and helps you maintain your independence as you age.
2. Increases metabolism and improves body composition
Targeted strength training and a well-balanced diet, including adequate protein and carbohydrates, increase muscle mass. Increasing your muscle mass increases your resting metabolic rate – the number of calories you burn doing nothing. Research shows this increase averages 7% more calories burned. As your muscle mass increases, you burn more calories and lose more body fat than with aerobic exercise alone, especially in your abdomen.
3. Prevents type 2 diabetes
Diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases today, affecting 462 million people worldwide. Incorporating at least two strength training sessions per week and 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise will go a long way in preventing you from developing diabetes. This is because muscle plays a vital role in regulating how sensitive our cells are to insulin. Insulin is the hormone responsible for taking the sugar out of your blood and ferrying it to its destination in the cell. If our cells are no longer sensitive to insulin, the sugar accumulates in our blood, eventually resulting in diabetes. Strength training helps us to increase our muscle mass, improve our insulin sensitivity, helping to prevent type 2 diabetes, and slow its progression in those who already have it.
4. Prevents osteoporosis
Another condition associated with aging is osteoporosis which is the age-related loss of bone density. Similar to sarcopenia, osteoporosis contributes to significant disability for older people. Without strength training, you could lose 1% - 3% of your bone density yearly. By prioritizing strength and increasing muscle mass, you can prevent osteoporosis and improve your quality of life in the long term.
5. Improves lower back pain
Lower back pain affects millions of people each year and increases with each decade of life. For many, this can be a debilitating, chronic condition that affects their quality of life and time with family and friends. While there is no one fix for chronic lower back pain, hitting the weights can increase the supporting muscles that help to stabilize the spine and ligaments. This improved support puts less strain on the areas of our skeleton that are under the most stress and can be protective against future microtrauma or injury to your back.