Resistance Training for Life
Live Longer and MOVE Better
If you could change something small to improve your posture, benefit your heart, keep weight off, and boost your energy levels, would you?
It’s not organic coffee beans, Cabernet Sauvignon, or a newly-discovered herb from New Guinea. But most of us know as much about this topic as we do about New Guinea! The shocking fix is resistance training! Studies show that adding resistance training to regular exercise routines provide all the following benefits and more.
Now let’s be clear… resistance training is a form of strength training. It refers to physical exercise that uses some type of resistance (such as dumbbells, Theraband, or body weight) to generate contractions of muscle groups for building strength and anaerobic endurance.
Strength training doesn’t have to be a dirty word. Unfortunately, it’s a common stereotype to believe that “if I lift weights, I will look like the hulk”, or “it’s only strength training if i grunt excessively and wear muscle shirts”. Resistance training is not reserved for the 5% of the population we picture in our heads, it can be an easy change added to existing workouts.
How Strength Training Improves Health
The following is a list of 5 main reasons you should add resistance training to your workouts. This type of exercise is beneficial for everyone; from the 16 yr. old basketball player recovering from an ankle injury, or the 84 yr. old grandmother with osteoarthritis.
1.Resistance training for disease management and prevention.
Resistance training is a well-documented method for managing a variety of chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Studies show that strength training lowers HbA1c (glycosylated haemoglobin) levels, benefiting those who struggle with diabetes. When performed regularly, resistance exercises significantly lower your blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels (Irvine & Taylor, 2009; Cornelissen & Smart, 2013).
2. Resistance training can improve your quality of life.
If you are not looking to prevent or manage a disease, maybe you want to improve your overall quality of life? Studies found that strength training improves mood, boosts energy levels, and reduces experienced pain (Zhang, 2010). You may ask “How can this be?” Endorphins! Resistance training elevates the release of endorphins (natural opiates produced by our body). This means everyone basically has their own, natural, internal Advil manufacturer! Sleep patterns also improve once routine resistance training is added.
3. Resistance training for weight loss.
It’s easy to guess this perk would have made the top five benefits, but strength training is one of the best ways to keep weight off. Similar to other forms of exercise, resistance training breaks down the fat cells in our body. But unlike some other forms of exercise, resistance training also increases muscle mass and improves your metabolic rate as well! This means resistance training improves the rate at which your body burns calories throughout the day, not just when you are at the gym!
4. Resistance training improves body mechanics.
Accidental falls are one of the leading causes of injury in Canada among adolescents and elderly individuals. Studies found that strength training improves balance and coordination which reduces the likelihood of injury. But there’s more! They also found that strength training improves range of motion for certain joints and corrects poor posture. If you have bad posture and are perhaps suffering from low back pain, resistance training is for you! (Beyer et al., 2007)
5. Resistance training protects bone health and builds a strong, supportive frame.
At the age of 30, bones reach their maximum density and strength, known as your peak bone mass. At roughly the age of 40, our bones slowly begin to naturally lose bone mass, and become more fragile. We then rely more heavily on our muscular system to support our body weight. Strength training is an effective way to increase muscle mass and reduce the load being put on your bones. (Brandon et al., 2003; Stavropoulos-Kalinoglou et al., 2013).
Where to start?
Resistance training doesn’t require a new gym membership, or buying the full Costco set of dumbbells, not even that bow-flex you bought off the paid programming channel. It can be as simple as starting with body weight exercises like planks, push-ups, squats, or wall slides. As you become stronger, add in resistance to challenge your strength. Resistance bands are inexpensive, effective, efficient, lightweight, and portable. They can easily be anchored around the house, taken to work (for break time!), or even packed up and taken with you to Puerto Vallarta! But if you have small dumbbells, kettle-bells, or other weights these work as well.
Leduc Physio is a great place to start learning how to add resistance training to your life. You can work with our kinesiologists in small-group strength programs for specific conditions like osteoarthritis, low back pain, and osteoporosis/poor posture. Or, learn the best resistance exercises for your body privately with a custom exercise therapy session. These sessions are tailored to your specific goals and physical needs.