Recent research has highlighted some of the incredible benefits of strength training. According to a review published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, regularly adding 30 to 60 minutes of strength training to your week may be associated with a 10% to 20% decrease in the risk of early death.
This is such exciting initial research; I’ve long advocated for the power of strength training so I absolutely welcome this review and the main learnings that have been shared from it. The objective of this research was to quantify the associations between muscle-strengthening activities and the risk of non-communicable diseases and mortality in adults independent of aerobic activities. Working with adults of varying ages without severe underlying health conditions, the research and indicative statistics found that adding just 30-60 minutes of strength training to your week can cut your risk of early death from conditions such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes by up to 20%.
So, what is strength training and why does it have this power to keep us healthy through life?
Strength training is any physical exercise which is designed to improve our strength as well as our endurance. It is usually exercises performed with weights or bands but it can also be activity using our body weight as resistance such as squats, press ups, sit ups, hill climbing, dance etc.
So why should we do it and what are the benefits of strength training?
- For me the number one benefit would be muscle mass. We lose muscle mass naturally as we age and using weights or resistance training will ensure that we maintain our muscle tissue and stimulate growth.
- Strength training obviously keeps us strong for long term health – we will naturally be able to perform everyday activities with ease, preventing further injuries as we age and keeping our bodies in the best shape possible.
- Bone health! A huge benefit! As with muscle mass we also lose bone density from age 30+ and it is imperative that we lay down new bone tissue to avoid osteoporosis and fractures as we age. Strength training loads the bones putting stress on them which in turn stimulates new growth. Especially key pre and post menopause when we can see bone density drop as estrogen levels decrease.
- The benefits are as much mental as physical. Strength training is a huge mood booster – I see this every week in my classes – people feel energised, less stressed and anxious. Even 30 minutes can really help lift the mood and the effects can last for hours after a workout.
- Weight management. Strength training helps with weight loss – as we increase muscle mass we thereby increase the number of calories we burn at rest. The after burn is also a huge factor – with resistance exercise we continue to burn calories after the workouts as the muscles recover and grow. Combined with a healthy diet, strength training plays a huge role in maintaining a healthy weight.
As mentioned above as we age it is vital we incorporate strength training into our workouts. I recommend to my clients to do 3 sessions a week. Losing muscle mass and bone density as we age is something we need to focus on and only strength training can really help the body stay healthy and strong and combat weakness and frailty associated with age. Injuries are much more common in old age and strength training can hugely impact on this. Building muscle also helps with our overall balance, reducing the risk of falls and injury.
Who should not strength train?
As with any exercise program you should always consult a doctor or qualified fitness professional if you are starting exercise for the first time. If you have heart or kidney disease or type 1 or 2 diabetes you should consult with your doctor before starting a strength training program. Similarly if you have arthritis, being treated for high blood pressure or undergoing cancer treatment you should also consult your doctor.
If you want to find out more about my online strength training classes, follow this link: https://carolinescircuits.com/online-classes/