The Health Benefits of Strength Training

Strength training has many health benefits for just about everyone, including kids, seniors, and everyone in between. But strength training doesn’t have to be about sweaty health clubs and scary bodybuilding dungeons. You can get a great workout in your own home.

Push-ups.  Dumbbells.  Crunches.  Bah!  A lot of people would prefer to stick their foot in a bear trap rather than step into a gym or health club.  The mere mention of a bench press, or shoulder press, or any kind of press unrelated to cooking makes them break out in hives.  It’s a shame, because strength training has tremendous benefits for the health and well-being of just about everyone, from school-aged kids to senior citizens. 

Maybe the problem is in the presentation.  When people think of strength training they think of lifting weights, and bodybuilding, and before long an image of a greased-up, smiling, flexing, mid-1970’s Arnold Schwarzenegger pops into their heads.   Or, they imagine grown men slapping each other and screaming at the top of their lungs, expecting their gorilla-esqe show of testosterone to convince each other to lift heavier weights.  But strength training doesn’t have to be like that.  In fact, there really is no reason to even go to a gym if you don’t want to. A great home workout can be had using adjustable dumbbells, your own bodyweight, or even cans of veggies or milk jugs you have around the house.  Anything that makes the muscle work a little harder will fit the bill.  And Arnold can keep his shirt on.

Strength training obviously will make your muscles a little bigger and stronger, and that alone has health benefits you may not have thought of.  Daily tasks will be a little easier, especially for a person with some weight to lose.  Many people think that strength training would make them stiff and muscle-bound, but that not really true.  Lifters are usually more flexible than average people, and therefore less likely to injure themselves during daily activities, such as stooping to pick up a grocery bag.  People who participate in strength training have stronger bones, so falling is less likely to result in injury.  This is especially important for older people.  

Strength training is beneficial for weight loss as well.  Along with the calories burned during a strength training session, a person’s metabolism will remain elevated for several hours afterward.  Most importantly, larger muscles mean more calories burned, even while at rest.  Even a gain of only a couple of pounds of muscle could mean a significant increase in basal metabolic rate.

Will all of these benefits, is it possible that strength training is better for you than aerobic conditioning such as walking or running?  That’s an argument that will probably go on forever, but the best answer is probably to include a little of both in your exercise schedule.  Unfortunately, too many people rely on the walking and forget about making their bodies stronger all-around.  Strength training is important for general health and well being, for just about everyone!

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  1. Very convincing writing. I do exercises in the morning which includes a little strengthening of my core and limbs. I have to do a bit of lifting while caring for my wife and, at 69, if I do not exercise I tend to get a lot of injuries in the elbows, back and knees. My wife has cerebral palsy and can do little of her own care. But put her in front of a computer and she saves the world as an advocate for people with disabilities. It is pretty amazing how much bulk we lose as we age. When I was young my thighs were so big I could never wear jeans. Now the jeans are baggy on me. Stay young.

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