Strength and Resistance Training by Paul Rowson
Exercise is a key element in any healthy lifestyle. When integrated into a person’s routine, alongside sensible eating and sleeping habits, exercise will enable you to move well, with less energy demand and generally live longer.
Our knowledge and understanding of exercise has come a long way over the past few decades. Thankfully, the idea that you have to spend your entire gym session on a treadmill is becoming quickly outdated. Even if your fitness goals centre around losing weight, we now know that strength and resistance training are just as important, if not more, than the cardio aspect of your workout.
Depending on your health and fitness goals, your physiotherapist will assign various strength exercises to get you where you want to be. Whether your goals primarily include weight loss, increased mobility or lean muscle gain, here are our top 5 reasons why strength and resistance training are key to achieving them:
1. It Aids Weight Loss
We want to banish the myth that says, “strength training will bulk me up, so I won’t lose weight.”
Increasing your muscle mass will help speed up your metabolism, burn more calories and lose weight even faster than cardio workouts can achieve on their own. With the key word being ‘strength’ not ‘sculpture’, remember that strength training alone will not result in a bodybuilder’s physique. The goal is to acquire lean body muscle, which will aid your body in burning calories more efficiently and help you stay lean in the future.
2. It’s Age Defying
Well, maybe we shouldn’t go as far as ‘age defying’, but strength training certainly helps us live a more mobile, energetic and longer life!
As we age, we naturally begin to lose lean muscle through a process called sarcopenia. Strength training is highly beneficial to older adults because it helps build muscle mass and preserve bone density, which in turn decreases the risk of osteoporosis.
Protecting our muscles and bones is very important later in life and equally, it also helps us to complete simple, day-to-day tasks, which tremendously increases our quality of life. Strength training aids fitness, balance and coordination as we age, all of which are needed to get out of bed in the morning, drive a car, walk to the letterbox and even wash the dishes.
3. It Combats Disease
We already know strength and resistance training decreases the risk of osteoporosis by preserving our bone density, but did you know many others living with chronic disease can benefit from this form of exercise?
Diabetics that undertake strength training at least 2 times per week find their bodies can utilise insulin better, which can help lower blood sugar levels. Arthritis sufferers also find that strength and resistance training can be as effective as medication at treating pain. Exercise strengthens and lubricates affected joints, while helping to decrease swelling and pain.
While aerobic exercise is generally assumed to be prescribed for heart health, strength training may have more benefits than you realise. Your blood flow is increased during strength workouts, which in turn helps lower your blood pressure. It is also found to aid sounder sleep patterns, lower blood cholesterol and lose visceral fat - all of which promote cardiovascular health and decrease the risk of heart disease.
4. It Boosts Your Mood
We all know that exercise releases endorphins, which boosts your mood and reduces stress levels. Strength training is no exception, although one could argue the mental benefits go way beyond an endorphin rush.
Achieving a personal best, whether it be weight, reps or time constraints gives you a huge sense of accomplishment and purpose. You’re encouraged to continue your health and fitness journey, and after finishing that last rep you feel you can tackle anything!
Seeing the physical results in the mirror is also great encouragement. Strength training yields fast results, most people noticing a change in muscle definition within a few weeks. Looking at yourself in the mirror and experiencing a positive reaction boosts confidence and overall happiness.
5. It’s Accessible
When we think ‘strength training’ a lot of us picture bodybuilder-like gym junkies, lifting weights the size of a small car. However, strength training isn’t limited to the use of large and expensive weight machines utilised in gyms. In fact, strength and resistance training is so accessible and comes in so many different forms, that you’re sure to find a style that suits you.
Free weights and resistance bands are highly accessible, but exercises such as yoga, push-ups, planks and squats only require your own body weight. Pilates is one of our favourite types of resistance training, with added benefits such as stronger core stability, improved posture, flexibility and lower back pain relief. If your schedule limits gym time, most of these exercises can be performed at home or on the go.
If you’re impressed with the benefits of strength and resistance training, ask your Back In Motion physio how you can utilise these exercises in your current lifestyle or fitness regime.
Paul Rowson B.ApSc (Physio) Gr.Dip.(SportsPhysio)
Director and Principle Physiotherapst