As you likely know, we are huge fans of incorporating various strength/resistance training methods into our clients' PT/performance training programs. We believe incorporating strength training, and sport-specific interventions sets us apart as "performance physical therapy" compared to traditional PT. Most of us know the generic benefits of strength training; strength building, weight loss, improved muscle tone/mass. However, there is a multitude of additional benefits that often get overlooked.
Today we want to highlight a few of our favorite benefits of resistance training for therapy/rehab and wellness/health promotion.
Noteworthy Benefits of Resistance Training:
Improved muscular strength and endurance:
Increasing lean muscle mass helps us perform our day-to-day tasks (carrying groceries, lifting a heavy box, walking a flight of stairs) and our recreational activities (hiking, skiing, golfing) with greater ease and for more extended periods.
Improved bone density:
As we age, strength training is our best defense against osteopenia/osteoporosis (bone density loss). Strength training with loading and weight-bearing activities stresses our bones and signals our body to rebuild and strengthen our skeletal tissues.
Improved brain health:
Many studies show that older adults improve memory, cognitive processing, and decision-making following strength training compared to aged match individuals who do not participate in similar activities. The notion of improved circulation in the body and the brain following strength training helps drive neuroplasticity (our brains' ability to grow and change).
Improved metabolism and weight management:
Building lean muscle helps increase our metabolic rate (the speed at which our body can process calories). Muscle is more metabolically efficient than adipose tissue (fat), meaning we can burn more calories at rest with greater lean muscle mass than fat.
We have additional increases in our metabolic rate following a strength training session. A post-training window up to 72 hours following strength training allows our bodies to burn additional calories following a training session.
As discussed in the past Wellness Wednesday posts, stretching alone is not our most effective way to improve mobility. Strength training can improve flexibility by finding new ranges of motion while under load to add mobility while also adding strength and stability.
Improved body composition and protection against chronic conditions:
Strength training helps reduce total body fat and visceral fat (abdominal fat around our organs).
Higher amounts of visceral fat are often associated with an increased risk of many adverse health conditions (heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer).
Improved mood and energy:
Strength training (along with other forms of exercise) helps our body release endorphins, which help improve mood and decrease stress/anxiety, all of which positively affect overall mental health.
Improved heart health:
Consistent strength training can lower blood pressure, lower bad cholesterol, and improve blood circulation.
Decreased risk of injury:
Loading our muscles, joints, and tendons safely and more often helps improve our overall mobility, strength, and stability, decreasing the risk of injury in day-to-day and recreational activities.
Well-rounded strength training also helps restore muscular imbalances resulting from sedentary work/lifestyle factors and reduce the risk of overuse injuries or injuries resulting from poor mechanics.
Strength training not only strengthens our muscles but improves our body awareness and ability to sense and detect where we are in space. Increased ability to support and control our bodies improves our balance and reduces our risk of falling as we age.
Though this list fails to include ALL of the positive effects of strength training, you get the gist! We recommend slowly integrating strength training into your life if it is new to you. Working with a qualified provider (physical therapist/personal trainer/performance coach) to teach you safe and efficient forms of strength training appropriate for your body and your goals is the best way to get optimal results and prevent injury. If you are ready to incorporate strength training into your life, reach out, we are here to help.
Lift heavy, Nicole