5 Benefits of Adding Strength Training to Your Fitness Routine
Exercise has a long list of benefits from increased happiness to stronger bones and stronger minds. Having a regular fitness routine is one of the best things you can do for yourself mentally and physically. There are many activities to choose from, each with a particular benefit to your body. This article will discuss the benefits of strength training and ways you can work it into your fitness routine.
What is Strength Training
There are many types of beneficial exercises, but strength training specifically works to strengthen and tone your muscles. With regular strength training, muscle mass can be restored and even increased.
Benefits of Strength Training
The obvious reason most people turn to strength training is to get a leaner and fitter body. However, strength training benefits go well beyond just looking good. Here are 5 benefits to motivate you to pick up strength training:
1) Weight control/maintenance
- This benefit goes hand in hand with increased muscle mass. As you strength train, your muscles are forced to work harder and at a higher intensity than normal. This intense activity increases your metabolism, which in turn helps you to burn more calories, even after your strength training session is over.
2) Increased Bone Strength
- As we age, our bones weaken and lose their density. Some later develop osteoporosis which is characterized by extremely fragile bones. Strength training plays a role in putting stress on bones through the different weight lifting and resistance motions. These motions tug and push on the bones and thus stimulate the cells in bones. The result is increased bone mass. These bone building benefits are seen even when someone is already advanced in age.
3) Brain Health
- Studies have shown that regular strength training can improve cognitive decline in older adults. These mental benefits extend to all ages, with improved mental clarity and a reduction in stress levels. It can also improve symptoms of depression and anxiety.
4) Lowers Risk for Injury
- Strength training can improve your flexibility and balance. This is important for anyone in preventing strains or falls. Everyday activities such as cleaning, gardening, and work related motions all carry the risk for injury. Strength training improves the form and function of muscles and joints, and thus helps you outside the gym as well.
5) Disease Prevention
- Strength training is seen to have many benefits across a wide range of health problems such as fibromyalgia, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer. Research suggests that sedentary lifestyles put you more at risk for health problems. However a reduction in fat and an increase in muscle mass has been linked to overall better health outcomes.
If you already have a fitness routine such as regular walking or running, you can easily fit strength training into your routine 2-3 times a week. If you don’t have a gym membership, that’s okay. Many strength training exercises can be done at home with minimal to no equipment. Here are a few exercises that use your own body weight to get you started:
- Start in a plank position with your hands on the floor beneath your shoulders and your knees facing the floor. Squeeze your buttocks and keep your abs flexed. Slowly lower yourself, bending at the elbows (try to keep your elbows tucked in instead of flaring outwards) until your chest is close to the ground; then push yourself back up into the plank position. If this is too difficult for you, you can use an elevated surface such as a bench to perform the push ups until you gain more strength. Repeat this exercise 5 times for 3 sets (total of 15).
- You can perform this walking or stationary. For walking lunges, start in a standing position. With your left foot, take a large step forward and bend the left knee so your thigh is parallel to the floor. Your right leg should be extended behind you. Slowly stand up and bring your right foot forward next to your left foot. Then repeat with the right foot stepping forward. Alternate this way for 10 times. Repeat for 3 sets (total of 15 lunges for each leg).
- With your feet shoulder width apart and toes pointed slightly outward, push your buttocks back as if you were going to sit down. Slowly lower yourself down into a squatting position. Be mindful of pushing your knees out as you lower into the squat. Slowly stand back up. Repeat 10 times for 3 sets.
- Place your upper back/shoulders on a firm surface such as a bench. Your feet should be firmly placed on the floor. Raise your buttocks up to form a bridge position. Your shoulders should be in line with your knees, which should be at a 90 degree angle. Hold this position with glutes and abs firm. Slowly lower your hips. Repeat this 8 times for 3 sets.
Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health. So what are you waiting for? Get up and get moving! Try these strength training exercises to get you started, and advance from there. If you are unsure as to whether you are performing these exercises correctly, come see one of the physical therapists at Blue Hills Sports and Spine Rehabilitation. Whatever you do, get active and stay active!