You know you should move your body every day and you might even count your steps to hit the illustrious 10,000 step goal. But what about strength training?
If you’re skipping the weights, you could be depriving your body of what it needs, and you could be missing the chance to age in reverse.
Did you know that stronger muscles could lead to a reduced risk of death from all causes? Read on to find out why resistance training should be a part of everyone’s overall health journey.
Why Strength Training Is Important
A study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine showed that strength training of just 30 to 60 minutes a week can reduce your risk of death by as much as 20%.
Strength training improves your musculoskeletal health, which strengthens your bones and muscles. That in turn makes your body stronger and better able to stand up to certain diseases and conditions.
When you preserve the body’s skeletal muscle mass, you normalize the body’s ability to metabolize glucose which can be the underlying cause of many health issues including certain cancers and cardiovascular disease.
The more efficiently you use glucose, the more energy your cells have to do what they need to do to stay strong, and the less overall inflammation you have.
What Counts as Strength Training?
Strength training doesn’t have to mean you go to the gym and lift hundreds of pounds, although you can do it that way if that’s your style. For the rest of us, it can look many different ways.
Here are some different flavors of strength training:
- Weight lifting to build muscles
- Light weight lifting with many reps to increase your muscles’ endurance
- “Workout snacks,” or quick sets of vigorous activity that you do throughout your day, in between things
- HIIT – Explosive bursts of exercise alternated with weights to keep your body moving and building muscles
You don’t even have to use weights to train your muscles or strength train. You can use your own bodyweight doing things like planks, pushups, and pullups to gain strength too.
How Often Should you Strength Train?
Experts believe the sweet spot is 40-60 minutes a week of strength training, depending on how much activity you get during the day. If you spend your workweek loading delivery trucks, you won’t need that much. If you’re at a desk, you may opt for more.
There isn’t any evidence that longer periods of strength training lower your risk of death by any cause, but you can always do it more often if you enjoy it.
Ideally, you should move your body at least 30 minutes a day 5 days a week. For best results, include strength training alongside your cardio.
Other Benefits of Strength Training
Reducing the risk of death is a wonderful benefit of strength training, but here are some other benefits too:
- It’s easier to maintain a healthy weight. Too many people assume that cardio is the only way to lose weight, but you can burn fat with strength training by building muscle which helps burn fat faster.
- You’ll feel stronger and can do more. Who likes relying on your muscular friends, when you could flex yourself? When you strength train, you improve your body’s ability to do what’s necessary like lifting heavy things, or even keeping up with your kids or grandkids.
- Reduce stomach fat. If you feel like you have the middle-aged bulge and it’s just a “part of life,” as they say, strength training can help reduce it. When you reduce your abdominal fat, you reduce the risk of chronic diseases including diabetes and cardiovascular illnesses.
- Improves balance. Balance is important, especially as you age. When you can balance better, you’re less likely to fall and hurt yourself. When you use your body to support itself (body strength training), your body responds by being able to handle life’s challenges.
- May lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. If you’ve tried everything to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, consider strength training. While it won’t replace a healthy diet or medication your doctor prescribed, strength training could improve your efforts and help you live a longer life.
If you haven’t incorporated strength training into your routine yet, it’s time to start. You don’t have to invest in heavy weights or even invest a lot of time. All you need is your own body strength and 30 – 60 minutes a week to make a difference in your health.
You’ll reduce the risk of death, feel stronger, have a leaner body mass, and just feel better overall. It’s easy to start strength training and even a few minutes a day every day can make a difference in your life.