Benefits of resistance training and why you should be doing it
Resistance training has so many benefits particularly for women who are 40 and beyond. I am always going on about this to anyone who will listen. The reason it is so dear to my heart is because it actually does work. It plays a key role in assisting you to avoid the slow and stealthy weight gain which is almost inevitable post 40. This is good news for anyone that enjoys eating food and wants to be able to continue to eat more than bird like portions as they age.
What is resistance training? It is any type of movement which puts our muscles and our skeleton under load. We have to push or pull either because of external resistance such as a weight (or our own body weight) or because of gravity – when we jump really high or sprint. When we stretch our muscles (during the eccentric phase of an exercise) or squeeze our muscles (during the concentric phase) our body is forced to adapt. When it adapts, we get stronger.
What are the benefits of this type of training? – apart from the fact that you will get stronger – which can come in handy.
- Increased muscle mass. Your body will start to recruit additional muscles fibres to help out. Your muscle fibres will also get bigger in size as new cells are created and there will be an increase in the volume of fluid in the muscles. Your muscles will be “bigger” than they were before but it is extremely unlikely that you will start to resemble the hulk unless you embark on a special program combined with a bulking diet (combined with the right genetics). Your stronger, relatively bigger muscles will take up an increased percentage of your body. This is a good news for your body because as a result……
- You will have an increased metabolic rate. Small inactive muscles do not use up much energy. Bigger muscles that are moving need to use a lot more energy at a faster rate. This is very good for anyone who likes food and wants to continue to eat well into their old age and not be stuck with bird like portions. Eating more nutrient rich food is good for our health as we are more likely to get everything we need to thrive.
- Energy use after training has ended Growing and building muscle, muscle repair and maintenance uses energy. Long after you have finished your resistance training you will continue to burn energy. Even though during your session you may use slightly less energy than you may do during a long cardio session, the effects of your training session will continue afterwards.
- Stronger bones Weight bearing exercise will result in stronger bones. There are numerous studies that document the increase in bone density which occurs when regular resistance training is undertaken. Avoid conditions such as osteoporosis by adding resistance work to your routine.
- Increased sensitivity to insulin You probably know that you can run into serious health problems (including diabetes type 2) when your body stops responding to the presence of insulin. Moving your muscles has actually been shown to increase their sensitivity to insulin.
- Maintaining and improving function I am looking forward to being able to sit down, kneel down, get up , carry my own groceries, pick up my grandchildren and do up my shoelaces well into old age. Resistance training is using and maintaining muscles we need to continue to move well. Use it or lose it.
- Added extras Do you want better posture? How about better sleep? How does reduced inflammation levels in your body sound? Does it sound good to be able to make quicker recovery from injury or illness? Muscle strength and function are a factor in all of these desirable outcomes. Oh one last thing muscles actually look good too. Even slim people can start to look a little saggy. Resistance workouts can help you keep looking “toned” and your skin will glow with vitality.
If you are someone who likes to make the most of their exercise time and likes the idea of training continuing to work for you even after training time is finished then resistance training is something you need to do.