When it comes to strength training, everyone envisions the big dude lifting heavy weights and yelling. We think of huge muscles, but we are rarely aware of a multitude of health benefits that accompany strength training.
Did you know that your bones become stronger through weight training? Research shows that the loading applied in weight training can increase the density and strength of bones. By lifting weights, you are asking your bones to hold much more force than just your bodyweight, and they respond by increasing their strength. Osteoporosis is a huge issue as we age. In fact, we lose about 1% of our bone density per year after we turn 40. Weight training can slow down and even reverse the ageing of our bones, keeping us from experiencing diseases like osteoporosis.
Not only do our bones respond and get stronger, but the cartilage between our joints stays thicker and healthier as well. On the ends of our bones, we have cartilage which allows our joints to move smoothly, and as we age, this cartilage degrades, becomes thinner, and stiff. By weight training, we can thicken our cartilage in response to heavy loads. The fluid around our cartilage contains nutrients and lubricants that keep our cartilage healthy, and the extra weight helps push this fluid into our cartilage. Our joints stay lubricated and healthy with and healthy exercise regimen.
Our tendons grow stronger as a result of heavy weight training. Our tendons are how muscles attach themselves to bones. Weak tendons will decrease the amount of force our muscle is willing to exert, as well as making us more susceptible to sprains and tendonitis. Stronger tendons can help keep away injuries such as tennis elbow, golfers’ elbow, as well as ensure our muscles are working properly.
During exercise, our body uses different modes of sugar regulation than at rest, which can help keep us from becoming insulin resistant and aid in the fight against diabetes. At rest, our bodies produce insulin to keep our blood sugar constant. If our blood sugar is getting too high, insulin is released to make our body store that sugar and take it away from the blood. During exercise, the muscles take sugar directly out of the blood without the use of insulin. This helps keep our secretion of insulin under control.
And one of the best outcomes from strength training is injury prevention. The stronger your body is, the more resilient you become to injury. This means you can spend more time being active and play with your kids more often as you age. If you lift 50 pounds in the gym often, 50 pounds in the real world become way less of a risk to move. Go up and down stairs easier and enjoy a higher quality of life. Not much can beat that.
BS Exercise Science