Working out does not have to involve jumping up and down or running for miles on end.
Occasionally, slowing things down can be just as beneficial – as long as you’re pushing the body.
Strength training provides numerous health benefits, such as lowering the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, stronger bones, better brain health and mood, and improved self-esteem.
Muscle mass naturally decreases with age, but strength training can help reverse the trend. Here we take a look at some of the other benefits.
Improved bone health
In a study published in the National Library of Medicine, the effects of resistance exercise such as strength training on bone health was analysed.
“Exercise training has been recommended as a low-cost and safe non-pharmacological intervention strategy for the conservation of musculoskeletal health,” the study began.
It continued: “Among them, resistance exercise has been highlighted as the most promising intervention to maintain or increase bone mass and density.
“This is because a variety of muscular loads are applied on the bone during resistance exercise, which generate stimuli and promote an osteogenic response of the bone.”
Lifting weights can help build muscle and strengthen bones but it has also been proven to shrink a person’s waistline.
In fact, building muscle can actually help you lose weight by increasing your metabolic rate to help you burn more calories when you’re at rest.
Some of the best types of exercises for fat loss include squats, deadlifts, Olympic lifts, pull-ups and push-ups.
Lowered heart attack and stroke risk
In a study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, weightlifting’s benefit for the heart was further investigated.
The research found that lifting weights for less than an hour a week may reduce a person’s risk for a heart attack or stroke by 40 to 70%.
The research involved data of over 13,000 adults measuring cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke that didn’t result in death, all cardiovascular events including death and any type of death.
“People may think they need to spend a lot of time lifting weights, but just two sets of bench presses that take less than 5 minutes could be effective,” said Duck-chul Lee, associate professor of kinesiology.
Lee says resistance exercise reduced the risk for all three risk factors.
The researchers also found that unlike aerobic activity, resistance exercise is not as easy to incorporate into our daily routine.
For these reasons, Lee says a gym membership may be beneficial as it not only does it offer more options for resistance exercise, but in a previous study Lee found people with a gym membership exercised more.
But for those watching their money, there are a number of household items which can help with weight training.
“For example, use two cans of soup to strengthen your arms,” recommends WebMD.
The site added: “Just bend your elbows and bring the cans up to your shoulders and back down 10 to 15 times.
“Or face a wall and stand 2 feet away. Put your hands on the wall even with your chest, and lean your body in and then back, like a push up.
“Keeping your legs straight, do these 10 to 15 times.”