The Benefits of Strength Training

By Janine Neill

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that, in addition to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or a combination of the two, adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities 2 or more days per week. Given these recommendations, let’s take a look at the importance of strength training.

Strength training is an effective way to build strength and effectively maintain or improve your health. Strength training can help improve overall physical health by increasing the strength of your muscles, ligaments and tendons, and increasing bone density, potentially reducing the risk of osteoporosis. It also revs up your metabolism to help you burn more calories, which can lead to a possible reduction in body fat and an increase in lean muscle mass. Strength training can also improve your sense of coordination and balance, improve your posture and reduce your risk of injury.

Strength training can enhance your quality of life by helping you to perform everyday activities with ease. Think about some of the movement patterns that you encounter as your move through your day. When you get in and out of a chair, you are performing a squat. When you lift a bag of dog food off the floor, you are performing a deadlift. In placing your luggage in the overhead bin on an airplane, you are mimicking an overhead press. Carrying shopping bags at your sides after a trip to the grocery store is a farmer’s carry. And who doesn’t love a burpee? You are doing exactly that when you are able to get from a lying position on the floor to a standing position. Through a regular routine of strength training, some of those everyday activities will seem easier and more efficient, with less of a chance of injury.

In addition to the numerous physical health benefits of strength training, we certainly shouldn’t forget about the positive effects on one’s mental wellbeing, including boosted mood, improved self-esteem and confidence, and reduced stress levels, just to name a few.

There are many ways to incorporate strength and resistance training in a gym setting – by utilizing dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, or traditional exercise machines. You don’t necessarily need access to a gym though – you can use resistance bands, sandbags, or simply your own body weight as resistance. Include a warm-up before lifting and remember to focus on proper form and then gradually increase the weight you are lifting and add intensity. Stay consistent in your training, listen to your body and have fun while continuing to challenge yourself.

You’ll be surprised that some of the things that you do in your everyday life that can be enhanced once you start a regular strength training routine. Not only will you improve your physical and mental wellbeing, but you will also find that everyday activities like climbing stairs, carrying groceries, doing housework or carrying your kids becomes easier. And who doesn’t like the sound of that?

Check out our Vitality Moves series for additional physical activity tips!

Janine is an Implementation Manager with Vitality. She holds a B.S. in Exercise Science/Sport Management from Rutgers University, as well as many certifications within the fitness and nutrition industry. She loves being a spectator/photographer at her daughters’ athletic events, writing on sticky notes, over-consuming nut butters, shiny lip gloss, taking hot yoga classes and competing in triathlons. For relaxation, she enjoys baking, taking naps in hammocks, and listening to podcasts.

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