What would you do if the next time you went for a check-up with your doctor, he prescribed a medicine that would give you more energy, slowed the aging process, helped you lose fat, burn more calories, made daily activities easier, lowered cholesterol, lowered your risk for heart disease and improved your balance? What if you only had to take this medicine two to three times a week and the only side effects were a more shapely body?
Would you be interested in trying this medicine? The good news is that this medicine exists and is available to everyone. The medicine is called resistance training. Resistance training, also known as strength training, is any exercise that uses resistance to increase muscular strength, muscular endurance or muscle size. Resistance training can be done with free weights, weight machines, resistance bands, kettlebells, bodyweight or water resistance.
Resistance training is safe and effective. Resistance training works for everyone regardless of age, gender, ability level or experience. Cardiac rehabilitation patients and athletes, male and female, young and old, able and disabled can all benefit from resistance training.
Let’s look at some of the reasons why resistance training is good medicine.
1. Stronger, Longer- Resistance training increases muscle tissue and strength. Increased strength means that we can do the same amount of work with less effort. Muscular endurance, our ability to work longer also improves as our strength increases. The stress of resistance training breaks down muscle in the body. As our bodies recover from the resistance workouts, the muscle tissue is repaired and the amount of muscle tissue in the body increases. Since muscle takes up less room than fat in the body our bodyfat decreases and we become leaner.
2. More muscle, faster metabolism – Metabolism is the rate at which our body burns calories. Metabolism slows as we age beginning around the age of 30. Resistance training increases the amount of muscle in our body. Even at rest muscle burns more calories than fat in the body. Resistance training can reverse this natural decline in metabolism. Research shows that a pound of muscle can burn as much as 35 calories per day at rest.
3. Improved weight Loss - Strength training is crucial to weight control. Our metabolic rate is the rate at which our body burns calories. Resistance training can increase our metabolic rate by as much as 15%. People who lose weight through diet only often lose more muscle mass than fat. This can result is a slower metabolism which means we burn less calories at rest each day. Resistance training helps maintain muscles during weight loss.
4. Better Bones – Bone density decreases as we age. Both men and women lose bone mass as we age often resulting in osteoporosis in our later years. Post-menopausal women can lose as much as 1-2% of their bone mass each year. Decreased bone density increases our risk of fractures. Resistance training helps to maintain or improve our bone density reducing the risk of developing osteoporosis. Weight training places stress on both your muscles and your bones. Over time your bones adapt to this stress and increase in density. Increased bone density reduces your risk of osteoporosis.
5. Better Balance – Improving the strength of our muscles and the density of our bones through resistance training improves balance and decreases risk from falling. Stronger muscles improve our balance and reduce the risk of falling. Stronger bones reduce the risk of injury, if we do fall. Recent research shows that power, (strength plus speed), is a key component in reducing the risk of falling as we age.
6. Living Well – Quality of life improves with resistance training as we age. Strong muscles help us stay active and enhance the ability to do activity in our later years. Strength training can reduce the symptoms of many diseases and chronic conditions including: arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, back pain, and depression. Daily tasks such as shopping for groceries, shoveling snow, managing stairs or taking out the trash take less effort as our strength improves.
7. Healthier Heart – Heart disease is the leading cause of premature death in the United States. As little as four weeks of strength training can decrease risk of heart disease. The American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine both recommend strength training as a way to reduce risk of heart disease.
8. Improved Mental Health – Self-confidence and self-esteem improve when we participate in strength training. Resistance training has also been shown to be as effective as antidepressants in people with mild depression. Results indicate that weight training is highly effective in depressed healthy adults and college students. Our ability to handle stress improves with weight training. Moderate strength training has been shown to reduce anxiety in healthy adults,
9. Improved Performance: Recreational and athletic sports performance both improve as a result of resistance training. Resistance training improves strength, balance and power. Strong muscles improve movement by contracting faster and harder than untrained muscles. Stronger muscles help us to move faster, jump higher, and throw or kick farther. Strength training also improves joint and ligament strength. Strong joints and ligaments help to decrease the chance of injury while participating in sports activities.
So stop resisting and take your medicine! Start your resistance training program today.
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