Kent Probst, BS, MEd
Kent Probst is the owner of Long Healthy Life Blog
Why it’s Important to Include Weight Training as Part of Your Exercise Routine
Building muscle and strength are laudable goals for health-conscious people who want to live longer, healthier lives. There are many reasons why you should include weight training as part of your exercise routine.
If you look around, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll see people over 50 who are sedentary, have lost muscle mass and have poor posture. These people are prime candidates for strength training.
Increased muscle mass is associated with significantly lower all-cause mortality in people over age 55.
Because of the benefits, strength training is an intervention that may help reduce healthcare costs.
We’ll detail some of the most important reasons why you should be doing weight training.
The Benefits of Including Weight Training as Part of Your Exercise Routine
1. Increased Resting Metabolism
You will build muscle mass which will increase your metabolism and allow you to burn more calories at rest.
One study showed that ten weeks of resistance training can increase lean mass by 1.4 kilograms, increase resting metabolic rate by 7%, and decrease body fat by 1.8 kilograms.
2. Improved Cognitive Function
Research published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society demonstrated that resistance exercise can improve cognitive function in older adults with mild cognitive impairment.
How weight training helps cognitive function:
- Increased blood flow to the brain.
- Increased angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels)
- Increased neurogenesis (formation of new neurons)
- Increased production of neurotrophins (proteins that improve survival of brain cells and help with brain plasticity).
3. Increased Bone Mass
The positive effects of weight training on bone density have been well known for decades.
Weight training two times per week can be an important aspect of your health and fitness plan for preventing or reversing osteoporosis.
A word of caution: People with osteoporosis should avoid excessive bending, twisting and compression of the spine.
4. Better Cardiovascular Health
When resistance training and cardiovascular exercise are combined they can benefit cardiovascular health by reducing peripheral and diastolic blood pressure.
The sixty-nine adults who participated in this 8 week study had hypertension, obesity, and exhibited a sedentary lifestyle, and saw improvements in blood pressure.
5. Better Balance
As a consequence of aging, our balance tends to deteriorate. More specifically, this means loss of sensory ability and motor control, as well as a decline in musculoskeletal function from sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass).
Reducing the risk of fractures is another reason you should be concerned about balance.
The risks associated with poor balance include falling and fracturing a bone. To improve balance you should incorporate resistance exercise into your fitness regimen.
A meta-analysis of 13 studies demonstrated moderate to large improvements in the balance of older adults when given a battery of balance tests after resistance training.
6. Increased Walking Speed
Maintaining or increasing walking speed is the concern of many people as they advance in age. And lower extremity resistance training may help accomplish the goal of increased walking speed.
After 8 weeks of resistance training (three times per week), women in their sixties demonstrated significant improvement in the 10-Minute Walk Test.
7. Improved Ability Walking on Stairs
The risk of falls increases when walking on steps compared to walking on a flat, level surface, even for young people. So improved stair climbing should be important to almost everyone.
Researchers found that resistance exercise and stretching resulted in improved ability of older adults to navigate steps upon descent.
8. Improved Mood
Ever notice how you feel better after you exercise? It can play a significant role in your holistic approach to managing depression.
Resistance exercise has been shown to significantly reduce the symptoms of depression. Resistance exercise is effective against depression no matter what the health status, the amount of exercise, or how much strength increases.
9. Reduced Levels of Inflammation
Published studies have demonstrated that diseases linked to low-grade inflammation, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, may be mitigated by resistance training.
Since resistance training can reduce inflammation, it may be an effective strategy for preventing or delaying diseases related to inflammation.
By incorporating weight training into your fitness regimen, you can craft a workout designed for longevity.
Including weight training as part of your exercise routine is not just about living longer, but also living better.
Need help designing a workout? The American Council on Exercise has resources to help you find a fitness professional.
Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through these links. Please note that I’ve linked to these products purely because I recommend them and they are from companies I trust. There is no additional cost to you.