Everyone can benefit from Weight Training

If weight training only brings up images of body-builders pumping iron in sweaty gyms, it may be time to adjust your expectations. You don't have to be a hulking mass of muscle to get benefits from weight training, which is one of the best ways to improve physical health and enhance well-being. By applying the principles of resistance, both in the gym and at home, you can do wonders for your physical health, mental focus, and confidence.

The big muscles and massive egos that inhabit the weight room can put off even the most ardent fitness enthusiast. Instead of dealing with what can be an intimidating atmosphere, people often gravitate towards cardio workouts such as running machines, aerobics classes, and interval training. While these workouts are all fantastic in their own right, weight training offers distinct advantages that can't be matched by other forms of exercise.   

Inactive people are known to lose between three and five percent of their muscle mass every ten years after the age of 30. There is also a loss of bone tissue over time as we age, which can lead to the weakness and postural problems that plague many older adults. Weight training is one of the best ways to counteract these problems, not only increasing muscle size but also improving the strength of the tendons and ligaments necessary for movement and health. Resistance training is not just about increasing muscle mass, much more importantly, it's about building up strength and improving physical function.

According to Brad Schoenfeld, an assistant professor of exercise science at New York City’s Lehman College, “resistance training is the most important form of training for overall health and wellness... Resistance training counteracts all those bone losses and postural deficits. Through a process known as bone remodeling, strength training stimulates the development of bone osteoblasts: cells that build bones back up. While you can achieve some of these bone benefits through aerobic exercise, especially in your lower body, resistance training is really the best way to maintain and enhance total-body bone strength."

Along with improving strength and physical function, weight training also helps to control insulin swings and body weight. According to Mark Peterson, an assistant professor of physical medicine at the University of Michigan, “Muscle is very metabolically active, and it uses glucose, or blood sugar, for energy. During a bout of resistance training, your muscles are rapidly using glucose, and this energy consumption continues even after you’ve finished exercising. For anyone at risk for metabolic conditions - type-2 diabetes, but also high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol levels and other symptoms of metabolic syndrome - strength training is among the most-effective remedies."

We are often told that the best way to control our weight is by watching our diet and performing regular cardio exercises such as walking or running. While this is true to some extent, people who lead sedentary lifestyles often lack the energy needed for cardio due to poor diets and not enough sleep. Overloading yourself with energy-sucking cardio is a common mistake, with people needing to build up their strength first through a balanced diet, some cardio, and progressive daily weight training. If you want to improve your physical function, control your body weight, and wake up full of energy, a structured program of weight training is a very important piece of the puzzle.

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