Benefits of Resistance Training
Resistance training (RT) is any muscle strength and endurance training you perform through any means of resistance. Training efficiently allows a muscle to move through its full range of motion with the addition of resistance to develop strength. Most often, we think of lifting weights and/or using weight training machines. But, in resistance training, you may use resistance tubing or bands, calisthenics (push-ups, pull-ups etc), hand-held weights, body weight and straps (such as the TRX System) and even water resistance (to a lesser degree) and I’ve even used jugs filled with sand or cans of tomato sauce. Training is very goal specific as someone interested in general fitness has different needs as say someone interested in body building or distance running.
The ACSM, American Heart Assoc. and the Surgeon General amongst others heavily promote resistance training for all populations.
Some of the expected benefits of regular resistance training:
- Enhances Endocrine and Immune System function
- Builds and maintains lean muscle mass
- Improves functional capacity in spite of aging by maintaining maximal strength and power
- Builds and maintains bone density
- Enables one to more rapidly correct muscle imbalances and weakness
- Boosts body metabolism
- Aids in the reduction of heart rate and blood pressure
- Improves self-image by improving body image
- Aids in decreasing risk for chronic diseases
- Improves maximum oxygen uptake by as much as 30%
Much of the research states that improvement and benefits of resistance training are not only multiplied by, but dependent upon the inclusion of aerobic exercise. So, it’s not one or the other which provides you a higher yield of benefit. It really is the balance and inclusion of both aerobic and resistance training (as well as a sensible and functional nutrition plan) which improves wellness and fitness levels.
The condition of chronic diseases proved to benefit from the inclusion of exercise and particularly resistance training. The research I came across brought many to light. Keep in mind too, these chronic diseases are greatly due to the results of lifestyle choices. Changing the course of disease is well within our power to do so. One major impact on the body as a result of resistance training is it’s effect on hormone production. This in turn helps reduce risk, but also shows improvements in the treatment of cancer, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, depression, metabolic diseases including obesity and diabetes.
Cancer patients can greatly benefit from a RT program for most of the reasons already mentioned; mainly an improvement in immune system function as well as an improved function of the endocrine system but RT also helps maintain lean muscle mass which decreases due to the use of cancer fighting medications. With cancer being the second leading cause of death in the US, it certainly makes sense to focus attention towards prevention. The fastest growing cause of cancer is obesity.
As we age, we face certain reductions in naturally occurring hormone levels as well as functional capacity. It doesn’t have to be this way, however. Many of the effects from aging, muscle mass loss, balance impairment, bone mineral density loss, attainable maximum heart rate, cardiac output, coordination, connective tissue elasticity, and metabolic rate can be greatly reduced or avoided through regular exercise. Also, it’s never too late to begin an exercise program and experience the benefits. The body will react positively even with those who have never regularly exercised before. So, with the evidence available, it is realistic to expect to turn back the hands of time and delay the onset of degeneration most experience as they age.
Diabetes is a metabolic disorder in which the body’s ability to produce insulin or to utilize glucose is impaired. Positive effects of RT in addition to aerobic exercise report a lowering of blood sugar levels, improved insulin sensitivity, improved HbA1c levels and you may not need to take as much insulin to regulate your glucose levels. Additional benefits include weight loss and improved cardiovascular functioning.
Obesity ranks as the number one problem in health today, in my opinion, because it is linked to so many other diseases and disorders. Many aspects effect the onset of obesity; aging decreases metabolism; gender related hormonal issues; genetics; environmental factors which impact behavior and body chemistry (as in the case of toxicity); physical activity or lack of due to lifestyle; psychological factors such as boredom, anger or depression and illness such as hormone imbalances. Throughout all of these situations are uses of medications which can cause one to gain weight. However, there isn’t one of these which can not be combated and positively impacted on by exercise, especially resistance training.
By now the reasons to include resistance training to maintain general health are obvious. To properly balance your wellness program include a good nutrition plan, aerobic exercise/activity, flexibility, resistance training and stress management, which includes at least 8 hours of sleep per night. The RT portion will help you maintain a leaner body and burn excess fat, particularly a more dangerous layer of fat known as VAT fat or Visceral Adipose Tissue. Other conditions can certainly benefit from the same kind of programming such as arthritis, coronary heart disease, hypertension, depression to name a few. Make your muscles strong and build a stronger body.