I’ve been strength training for over five years now.
I don’t think I would be enjoying the life I have today without incorporating this type of training in my weekly activities.
So I thought I’d write this post to show you the impact strength training can have on your health.
Let’s dive in.
Here are fifteen benefits that strength training can bring to your health:
1. Helps you lose weight
If you want to lose weight and make sure it doesn’t come back, you have to incorporate strength training in your program.
While you might not burn as many calories during a strength training session, you will be burning a lot more after.
This effect is called Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) and can last for up to 36 hours.
This happens because your body needs to repair itself after the workout.
It will be building muscles mass and increase your resting metabolic rate (1).
This means you will be burning calories even at rest.
2. Protects bone health
With aging, men with low testosterone and postmenopausal women are at risk of developing osteoporosis (2).
Osteoporosis is a process in which bones become weak and brittle due to hormonal changes, calcium or vitamin D deficiencies.
This means bones can be painful and susceptible to fractures.
By strength training you can manage hormonal changes and preserve bone density, making sure you won’t end up with achy bones and fractures.
3. Maintains joint health
Throughout life, joints are subjected to a lot of wear and tear leading to a degenerative condition called osteoarthritis (3).
Symptoms of osteoarthritis include joint stiffness, soreness and pain.
Most commonly people experience these symptoms in the knees, hips and neck.
Strength training keeps the joints well lubricated, builds up the ligaments and muscles that surround them, making the joints stronger and a lot more stable.
4. Preserves muscle mass
With old age or by having a sedentary lifestyle you are at risk of losing muscle mass and muscle strength (4).
Weak muscles limit day to day activities and can make you even quit certain activities you once enjoyed.
This in terms leads to depression and low self worth.
Further and more serious complications include falls, fractures and even disability.
By strength training you will keep your muscles strong and healthy, making sure you can enjoy life for longer.
5. Improves posture
When working long hours at the desk it’s easy to get sucked into work and not notice your shoulders hunching and your head peering at the screen.
A posture with rounded shoulder and a protruded head is all too common in people with desk jobs.
Couple strength training with a good mobility drill and you can correct your posture and develop stronger muscles that will help maintain proper posture.
6. Protects against low back pain
Low back pain is an extremely common problem in society (5).
One of the most common causes for low back pain is a muscle or ligament strain, caused by heavy lifting with poor technique.
Every one lifts on a daily basis, whether it’s your kid, your groceries bags or the laundry basket.
Bad posture, standing up or sitting down for long periods of time can also lead to back pain.
This is due to weak core muscles and back muscles.
Low back pain not only affects the individual suffering from it, but also his family and his performance at the work place.
With strength training you can learn the proper lifting technique, strengthen your core and leg muscles so that you can protect the lower back and stay pain free.
7. Prevents injury
With strong muscles, strong joints and proper posture, you will experience better balance and coordination.
This goes a long way in injury prevention whether you are about to fall (6) on ice or if you are practicing any type of sport.
8. Improves physical function
Walking, lifting, carrying, sitting in and out of the chair, these are all tasks you perform on a regular basis.
By strength training you will make sure you can perform these tasks well into old age and maintain your functional independence (7).
9. Decrease the risk of metabolic syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions that can increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
This group consists out of high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, high triglycerides and obesity.
Strength training has been proven to reduce these risk factors.
A study (8) including people with type 2 diabetes compared the effects of 4 months of strength training (ST) versus aerobic endurance training (ET).
Compared to aerobic endurance training, strength training showed significant improvements in blood parameters, by reducing blood glucose levels, HbA1C, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides (Fig 1).
10. Lowers blood pressure
High blood pressure is the most common risk factor in adults.
A study (9) conducted on a group of elderly hypertensive women, who were on a 14 week strength training program, showed a significant reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure values. The effect also lasted 14 days after the training was interrupted (Fig 2).
By strength training you can lower the chances of developing high blood pressure and prevent other diseases that are associated with high blood pressure, like heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure.
11. Improves cognition
With regular exercise, the brain releases chemical compounds into the blood stream that have a protective effect on neurons.
This effect can protect against neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer and Parkinson’s disease.
Strength training also improves memory and the executive function of the brain.
Sharpening these two skills will enable you to pay more attention, manage time better, switch focus, plan and organize better.
12. Reduces anxiety
Stress is something we have to deal with every day. That is why it’s very important to learn how to manage it.
Cronic stress is very damaging for your health because it has a negative effect on your cardiovascular and digestive system, weakens your immune system and leads to anxiety.
By strength training you can release all the tension in your body and combat the negative effects of stress.
Having to plan your training session, you will learn to organize and focus better.
This skill is invaluable and transfers easily to everyday life, making you feel more relaxed and worry less.
13. Reduces depression
If you are feeling down and looking for a way to overcome depression symptoms more easily, try a more cost effective method and start strength training.
When you exercise the body releases endorphins that will set you in a better mood.
14. Improves self-esteem
Seeing a physical change in your body will make you start feeling better.
As your training progresses, you will notice the number of sets, reps and weight increasing, making you feel a lot more competent in what you are doing.
All of this will help your self-esteem grow.
15. Improves sleep
Sleeping is an essential mechanism for body repair.
When you strength train, the body releases hormones that are vital for muscle repair, they will make you fall asleep faster and improve your sleep quality.
As you’ve noticed, strength training has massive benefits in all aspects of life, from general health, mental health (10) to functional independence.
So no matter your goal, whether it’s losing weight, gaining muscle or recovering from an injury, strength training can help you achieve those goals and more.
Finding at least three hours a week to incorporate strength training into you daily activities is something you can’t not afford to do.
Article written by Razvan Dan Ene, MD. Razvan writes at Strength Therapy, where he helps people develop a healthy mind and body with a step by step approach. When you feel ready to take action, get his free special report.
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1. Pratley, R. et al. “Strength Training Increases Resting Metabolic Rate And Norepinephrine Levels In Healthy 50- To 65-Yr-Old Men”. Jap.physiology.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 2 Feb. 2017.
2. Nelson, Miriam E. “Effects Of High-Intensity Strength Training On Multiple Risk Factors For Osteoporotic Fractures”. N.p., 2017. Print.
3. Latham, Nancy and Chiung-ju Liu. “Strength Training In Older Adults: The Benefits For Osteoarthritis”. N.p., 2017. Print.
4. CJ, Padilla, Sanchez P, and Cuevas MJ. “[Benefits Of Strength Training For The Prevention And Treatment Of Sarcopenia].”. Europepmc.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 2 Feb. 2017.
5. Hoy D, et al. “The Epidemiology Of Low Back Pain. – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2017. Web. 2 Feb. 2017.
6. Robertson, M. Clare et al. “Preventing Injuries In Older People By Preventing Falls: A Meta-Analysis Of Individual-Level Data”. N.p., 2017. Print.
7. “Progressive Resistance Strength Training For Improving Physical Function In Older Adults”. PubMed Health. N.p., 2017. Web. 2 Feb. 2017.
8. Cauza E, et al. “The Relative Benefits Of Endurance And Strength Training On The Metabolic Factors And Muscle Function Of People With Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2017. Web. 1 Feb. 2017.
9. da Cunha Nascimento, Dahan et al. “Sustained Effect Of Resistance Training On Blood Pressure And Hand Grip Strength Following A Detraining Period In Elderly Hypertensive Women: A Pilot Study”. N.p., 2017. Print.
10. O’Connor, P. J., M. P. Herring, and A. Caravalho. “Mental Health Benefits Of Strength Training In Adults”. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine 4.5 (2010): 377-396. Web.