Weight training, also known as strength training or resistance training, involves lifting weights or using resistance to build strength and muscle mass. While many people still associate weight training with bodybuilding, this type of exercise's benefits extends far beyond aesthetics. If you're not already incorporating weight training into your weekly routine (keep in mind, most expert health organizations like the American Heart Association suggest a minimum of two times per week), you should. Here are some of the benefits of weight training:
1. Increased Muscle Mass
One of the most well-known benefits of weight training is increased muscle mass. When you lift weights, your muscles undergo stress and damage, which triggers the body to repair and rebuild those muscles, leading to an increase in muscle size and strength. Note: increased muscle size does not necessarily mean you'll be sporting superman guns for arms after working out your arms once a week.
2. Improved Bone Density
Regardless if you are male or female, weight training has been shown to improve bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures later in life. The stress placed on bones during weight training stimulates bone growth and can even reverse bone loss in individuals with osteoporosis.
3. Increased Metabolism
Building muscle through weight training can increase your metabolism. Muscle tissue burns more calories at rest than fat tissue, so the more lean muscle mass you have, the more calories you'll burn throughout the day, even when you're not working out.
4. Reduced Risk of Injury
Strengthening your muscles through weight training can also reduce the risk of injury in other physical activities. Stronger muscles and bones provide more support to your joints and can help prevent common injuries like sprains and strains.
5. Improved Posture
Many people spend hours each day sitting at a desk, which can lead to poor posture and back pain. Weight training can help improve posture by strengthening the muscles of the back, shoulders, and core, leading to better alignment and less pain.
6. Better Sleep
Exercise in general has been shown to improve sleep quality, and weight training is no exception. Regular weight training can help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and improve the overall quality of your sleep.
7. Improved Mental Health
In addition to physical benefits, weight training has also been shown to improve mental health. Exercise releases endorphins, which are feel-good chemicals that can improve mood and reduce stress and anxiety. Weight training has also been shown to improve cognitive function and may even reduce the risk of cognitive decline as we age.
8. Improved Cardiovascular Health
While weight training is not traditionally thought of as a cardiovascular exercise, it can still have cardiovascular benefits. By increasing muscle mass, weight training can improve the body's ability to use oxygen, which can lead to improved cardiovascular health and endurance.
Whether you're looking to build strength and muscle mass or simply improve your overall health, adding weight training to your fitness routine can help you achieve your goals. As with any new exercise program, it's important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting to ensure it's safe for you to do so.