I guess this question seems more obvious than some that I ask, but I think it’s important to address the fact that not all exercise is created equally. One of the biggest dilemmas for my friends when they’re thinking about how to exercise centers around whether or not they should include weight training in their routine. We all know cardio is important for heart health, but do we really need strong muscles? Can’t we get away with just enough to get the groceries up the stairs? But really….
Should I be lifting weights?
In short, yes! It provides so many health benefits other than just strengthening your skeletal muscles!
Weight training reduces your chances of getting osteoporosis.
Your skeleton is pretty darn important to maintain. We all know that calcium helps build strong bones, but did you know that resistance training has also been shown to enhance bone strength. This is especially important for women, who are more likely to develop disorders like osteoporosis and osteopenia as we age. Now, I don’t advocate giving up calcium all together (because, cheese), but adding weight training to your normal routine could help maintain bone health even more than milk and cheese along.
Resistance training could reduce your chance of getting Alzheimer’s Disease.
Let’s face it, none of us want to get older. As we age, we start to worry about our brains and physical health declining. It’s pretty obvious that exercising can help to reduce your physical decline, but it’s also been recently suggested that weight training can help reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. Cognitive decline, at least to me, is one of the scariest things that can happen, so this reason alone makes me go, “where are the weights?!?”
Lifting weights can benefit your cognitive ability.
But why wait until you’re old to see the benefits? Recently, researchers from the Vancouver Coastal Research Institute found that resistance training only one to two times per week could help improve your ability to focus and to resolve conflicts. While the study was performed in geriatric women, it is likely that the effects could be seen in younger individuals as well. So not only do you prevent later decline, but you might also improve your brain right now!
Strength training can improve your overall mood.
While little of the work in this area is currently definitive, researchers from the University of Alabama-Birmingham found a correlation between resistance training and overall mood improvement in both genders and one study shows an improvement in symptoms of depression in women when any type of exercise was added to their routines. So I think Elle Woods was right when she said that “exercise gives you endorphins.”
Want another reason to weight train? Sign up for my mailing list to get a fifth reason to exercise. Because #motivation.
What are the caveats?
Well, weight training is great, but like all exercise programs, you should check with your doctor before starting something new. Once you get approval, the most important thing is to learn how to do your exercises with proper form. In addition to form being important for getting the most out of your exercises, doing the repetitive movements associated with resistance training incorrectly can cause some serious joint problems. Not sure how to do these exercises correctly? There are some online resources (make sure to check out whether you trust the source) and you can usually get an intro personal trainer session at gyms for a decent price.
So do you weight train? If you do, what are some of your favorite exercises?