There are hundreds of articles out there that explain how strength training is critical for sculpting muscle and losing weight. But did you know that research shows that strength training can make an immediate impact on other aspects of your health, including your skeletal and endocrine systems?
Here are three ways that lifting weights can improve your health, beyond how you look or how much you weigh.
Strength Training …
Strengthens Your Bones
Strength training is one of the only known ways to actually increase your bone density, something women in particular lose as they age.
Bones are constantly remodeling, explains Anthony Hackney, an exercise physiologist at the University of North Carolina . “Your body is always adding calcium to your bones and taking calcium away from your bones. This delicate balance starts to tip as people age, and they lose more mineral from the bone than they’re able to lay down.” Over time, bone gets less dense and more brittle and prone to osteoporosis. Lifting something heavy, like a dumbbell, makes bones bear more weight, and in exercise, stressing your bones is a good thing.
Improves Your Insulin Sensitivity
Conditions like type-2 diabetes and prediabetes often occur when your body stops using insulin as well as it should, a condition called insulin resistance . While you would think that watching what you eat would be the most important part of protecting your body’s ability to correctly process insulin, research shows that weight training can actually play an important role as well.
One study published in the journal Diabetes Care found that twice-weekly strength training sessions helped control insulin swings (and body weight) among older men with type-2 diabetes. In Time Magazine , Mark Peterson, an assistant professor of physical medicine at the University of Michigan, explains, “Muscle is very metabolically active, and it uses glucose, or blood sugar, for energy. For anyone at risk for metabolic conditions – type-2 diabetes, but also high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol levels and other symptoms of metabolic syndrome – strength training is among the most-effective remedies.”
Lowers Inflammation in the Body
So many of us equate muscle soreness with strength training, but that doesn’t have to be the case! In fact, people who battle chronic inflammation and pain, like those who live with rheumatoid arthritis, are actually encouraged to incorporate weight lifting and strength training into their lives. A review of the benefits of exercise for people with RA in the Journal of Aging Research concluded that weight training is so valuable for improving function without exacerbating disease activity that “all RA patients should be encouraged to include … resistance exercise training as part of routine care.”
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