A Few of the Many Reasons to be Strength Training

There are literally hundreds of reasons to participate in a regular strength training program. Many people lift weights in order to build muscle. We can reap the health benefits, however, without having to build massive muscles, which obviously gets more difficult as we age. This article will look at just a few of the many reasons why you should be strength training a minimum of twice a week.

Why Don’t More People Participate in Strength Training?

That is the million dollar question. If it’s so good for us, why don’t more Americans “just do it?” Maybe they feel like they don’t have the time. Some people think if they do, they will end up looking like a bodybuilder. We can put that thought to rest because of hormones. Women produce about 1/20th the amount of testosterone as men do. In addition, the older we get the less we produce. Levels of testosterone peak in men at around age twenty.

Hard to imagine but, according to research, more than 60 percent of American adults don’t do any muscle-strengthening activities on a regular basis. A study, published in the American Journal of Preventative found only 30.2 percent of adults engage in some type of resistance training. This included strength training, working with resistance bands, doing calisthenics like push-ups and sit-ups, as well as other bodyweight only exercise programs.

Use It or Lose It

The “it” being referred to here is muscle. According to research, people who do not strength train lose about 5-8 pounds of muscle every decade after age forty. This results in a reduction in metabolism by about 50 calories a day. As you grow older the loss of muscle becomes even more pronounced. By the time you reach age seventy, you’ve lost about 40 percent of your muscle and 30 percent of your strength. The only way to slow the process is by strength training on a regular basis.

Weight training — just an hour a week — may reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke by 40 to 70 percent, says a 2018 study of about 13,000 adults. It also helps prevent osteoporosis by making your bones stronger in a way aerobic activity can’t, one study says.

In a 2014 study, published in the research journal Obesity, a group of Harvard researchers followed 10,500 men over the course of 12 years finding that strength training is more effective at preventing increases in abdominal fat than cardiovascular exercise.

2013 research in the Journal of Applied Physiology demonstrates that young men who regularly strength train have better-functioning HDL, or good cholesterol, compared with those who never pump iron.

More than 34 million Americans currently have diabetes (1 in 10 people). Anyone with type 2 diabetes should incorporate resistance training into their routine. That’s because as a 2013 review published in the journal BioMed Research International showed, in addition to building muscle, strength training also improves the muscle’s ability to take in and use glucose, or blood sugar.

Additional Research on the Benefits of Strength Training

Regular strength training increases the number and diameter of collagen fibrils in tendons to increase their strength and help prevent injury. The results were published in a 2015 review in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy.

Strength training cam also improve symptoms of clinical depression and anxiety. Exercise-triggered endorphins may play a role, but strength training also provides an opportunity to overcome obstacles in a controlled, predictable environment, increasing mental resilience, according to findings from Harvard Medical School.

Strong bodies have strong bones. Strength training significantly increases bone mineral density. For the best results, prioritize standing weight-bearing, strength training moves such as squats and lunges. A 2014 Journal of Family and Community Medicine study demonstrates why this is important. Performing 12-weeks of strength training with squats, increased lower spine and femur bone mineral density by 3 and 5 percent.

In one 2016 study in the Journal of American Geriatrics, when men and women ages 55 through 86 with mild impairment performed twice-weekly weight training for six months, they significantly improved their scores on cognitive tests. However, when participants spent their workouts stretching, their cognitive test scores declined.

One of strength training’s many benefits include living a longer, more functional life. A 2015 study in The Lancet found that grip strength accurately predicts death from any cause. A 2017 report in Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care suggested that muscle strength and lean muscle mass may serve as better measures of a person’s overall health than body mass index or BMI.

Hopefully a few of these interesting, research-based facts about the value of strength training will help motivate you. Motivate you to either keep going strong or to actually get started with strength training on a regular basis.

Try the Jefit App

Jefit was recently named best online strength training workout for 2021 in an article published by Healthline. The app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner and training log. The app has ability to track data, offer audio cues, and features to share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Try one of the new interval-based workouts and add it to your weekly training schedule. Stay strong with Jefit.

Michael Wood, CSCS