By now, everyone knows that exercise is amazing for the body. Yet, not all types of exercise are the same. Strength training is a type of exercise where resistance is used to induce contraction in the muscles, building strength, anaerobic endurance, and size of skeletal muscles.
Lifting weights is essential for the body and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults engage in muscle-strengthening activities a minimum of two times per week. However, current statistics show that this recommendation is often ignored by people of all ages and races. According to the CDC’s analyzed data between 1998 and 2004, the percentage of adults engaging in the minimum amount of strength training required per week is not substantial.
- Only 14% of older men engaged in strength training
- only 10.7% of older women engaged in strength training in 2004 [elder population was defined as individuals’ age > 65 years old].
- Those that engaged in strength training the least were Hispanic – only 15.0% of Hispanic men and 9% of Hispanic women trained.
- On the other hand, the numbers showed that there was an increase in the population, overall, who engaged in strength training – from 17.7% in 1998 to 19.6% in 2004.
On average, those statistics indicate that not even one-quarter of the population lifts weights at least twice per week, which is the minimum amount required. This is an alarming fact but representative of our diseased and overweight society. In order to be fitter and live healthier lives, this trend must change!
Benefits of Strength Training
Strength training or weight lifting has numerous scientifically proven benefits for the body. Being in the fitness arena as a mentor and coach, I can testify that most people are surprised at the overwhelming amount of advantages experienced once they start lifting. Some of them experience faster metabolism, a leaner sculpted physique, stronger muscles and joints, less physical pain, increased power, and overall endurance. At the same time, strength training improves cardiovascular efficiency, bone density, digestion, and benefits endocrine and lipid levels.
An Australian study revealed that a resistance training program presented reductions in central obesity and improvement of physical function. After completing an 8-week strength training program, there was a significant decrease in waist size, as well as a significant increase in lower-body and upper-body strength at the completion of 8 weeks. These results remained the same at a 16-week assessment and a 24-week follow-up.
A 16-week study of sedentary older adults showed that strength training helped reduce triglycerides and total cholesterol (TC) levels, which lower the risk for coronary artery disease. Additionally, participants showed reductions in diastolic blood pressure, relevant to heart disease, and in markers of inflammation by 26%. At the same time, there were positive changes in body weight, waist circumference, and body mass index (BMI).
Even children benefit from resistance training, not only physically but psychologically. A study found that overweight children involved in a strength training program improved their fitness level and lost weight. At the same time, they gained confidence and engaged in more positive social interactions.
Start Strength Training!
If you are not currently lifting weights, it is time to start! No more waiting around or making excuses. Resistance training is for everyone:
- Guys, you do “have time” … You can make time. We all have the same 24 hours in our day. It’s just a matter of setting priorities and scheduling your training. It is a matter of health!
- Ladies, you are not going to “get big” or “gain a lot of muscle”… Unless you focus extremely hard on building muscle by training very heavy and eating an adequate amount of protein, believe me, it is not easy to gain muscle mass!
- Older gals and gents, you are not “too old to lift weights”… Your health should be your priority and should encompass strength training. Enjoying your remaining years without unnecessary pain and suffering is ideal and very possible.
- Kids, are not “too young” for strength training. They can spend less time in front of the TV, computer, and phone, and more time at the park strengthening the body.
- To my Hispanic friends, come-on! It’s time to step it up!
Remember, strength training can provide huge changes in your body and mind. Lifting weights positively affects your muscles, bones, joints, the digestive system, as well as cholesterol levels, cardiac function, and inflammatory conditions. It helps to gain higher muscle mass, accelerate your metabolism, burn more fat, and increase strength. To top it off, it contributes to positive internal feelings, increasing confidence, and reducing depressive states.
To a Fitter Healthier You,
The Fitness Wellness Mentor