By now everyone knows that exercise is amazing for the body. 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 that relevant for the body that 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 aren’t the greatest, and not all ages and races follow this minimum requirement. According to CDC’s analyzed data between 1998 and 2004, it was reported that the percentage of adults engaging in the minimum amount of strength training required per week increased from 17.7% in 1998 to 19.6% in 2004.
Unfortunately, certain populations did not follow this trend. For instance, only 14.1% of older men and 10.7% of older women (elder population defined as those aged >65 years) engaged in strength training in 2004. And sad to say, since I’m Hispanic, strength training was least prevalent among Hispanic men (15.0%) and Hispanic women (9.1%).
Based on those numbers, not even one-quarter of the population lifts weights at least twice per week, which is the minimum amount required. This is alarming but representative of our diseased and overweight society. In order to be fitter and live healthier lives this trend must change!
WHY should you lift weights?
Strength training or weight lifting has numerous scientifically proven benefits for the body. Being in the fitness arena as a mentor and trainer, I can testify that most people are surprised at the overwhelming amount advantages. Some of them are a faster metabolism, a leaner sculpted physique, stronger muscles and joints, increased power and endurance. At the same time, it improves cardiovascular efficiency, bone density, and benefits endocrine and lipid levels, as well as digestion.
An Australian study revealed that a resistance training program presented reductions in central obesity and improvement of physical function. After completing a 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 by 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.
It is TIME!
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 “have time” … we all have the same 24 hours in our day. Just have to set priorities and schedule your training. It is a health matter.
- Ladies, your are not going to “get big” or “have a lot of muscle,” unless you focused extremely hard on building. Believe me, it is not that easy to gain muscle mass!
- Older gals and gentleman, your health should be your priority. Enjoying your remaining years without unnecessary pain and suffering is ideal and possible.
- The Hispanic community, let’s go. Time to step it up!
Remember, strength training can provide huge changes in your body and mind. It positively affects the muscles, bones, joints, the digestive system, as well as cholesterol levels, cardiac function and inflammatory conditions. Lifting weights 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