5 reasons to start strength training
You know that your body loves to move. And from walking and biking to gardening and dancing, you do your best to live an active life. But what about exercises that specifically work to strengthen your muscles? Is strength or resistance training something you think about and make time for?
If this question makes you feel a little anxious, don’t sweat it! You don’t need to join a gym or invest in expensive equipment and pump iron every day. You can reap the many benefits of strength training by devoting about 30 minutes two to three days per week to target muscles in your upper and lower body. Let’s learn more about why strength training is so good for you, along with some simple ways to get started.
Why strength train?
Our amazing bodies are designed to lift, carry, balance, push and pull. But for most of us, our modern lifestyles are built around convenience and inventions that largely do these types of activities for us. The result? If you’re not intentional, over time your muscles – and the ligaments and tendons around them – begin to weaken and lose flexibility. This can make you more vulnerable to injuries like muscle strains and ligament sprains, and increase your risk of developing more serious health conditions.
While the benefits of aerobic exercise (think activities that get your heart rate up) are widely publicized, those related to building and strengthening muscles don’t get as much attention.
5 health benefits of strength training
- Promotes heart health – Strength training can help decrease blood pressure and LDL cholesterol while improving overall circulation. These health markers are vital to proper cardiovascular function and keeping your heart strong and healthy.
- Lowers diabetes risk – When you work to build and strengthen muscles, they act like sponges, storing glucose (a natural blood sugar your body gets from food) to use as energy later. This helps regulate how much and how quickly glucose is released into your bloodstream after eating and reduces your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
- Builds stronger bones – We naturally lose bone density as we age. But this loss can be slowed or even reversed with weightbearing and strengthening exercises. That’s because when stimulated, bone-building cells kick into high gear to build stronger and denser bones. And focusing on bone strength is especially important for women who, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, make up 80% of the estimated 10 million Americans living with osteoporosis.
- Reduces injuries – When you strength train, you’re not only building the actual muscles you work, you’re also improving the strength and range of motion of those muscles, as well as the ligaments and tendons they’re attached to. Why does this matter? According to the National Institutes of Health, regular strength training is associated with a 33% reduced risk of injury.
- Improves overall quality of life – As your muscles become stronger, daily activities like walking up the stairs, carrying groceries and playing with your kids or pets become easier. Resistance training has also been proven to improve balance, endurance and general body awareness. Plus, it can boost feelings of self-confidence as you realize how truly amazing and strong your body is.
Tips to getting started with strength training
Now that you know more about the health benefits associated with strength training, you may be wondering how to get started. And you have lots of options! You could hire a trainer at a gym, team up with a friend and lift weights at the park or follow a resistance band video from the comfort of home. You can even use your own body weight and do some squats, planks and lunges over your lunch break. Whichever way you choose to work your muscles, reduce the risk of injury by keeping the following tips and advice in mind.
- Warm up – Prepare your muscles by taking a walk around the block, or doing some jumping jacks or gentle stretches.
- Start small – The goal is to focus on form and do 12-15 reps, or enough to make the muscles you’re working feel really tired. Don’t try to max out and lift as much or do as many reps as you can as you likely won’t be able to maintain proper form.
- Be consistent – Aim to strength train two to three days per week and make sure to take a day off between sessions. A good option is to focus on your lower body one day and upper body a day or two later.
- Listen to your body – If a movement hurts or you’re feeling really sore from a previous workout, stop or take it a little easier. Your body is super smart and is always giving you information. Listen up and take its advice.
No pain, no gain?
No way! Yes, as you work your muscles, soreness is normal. But you shouldn’t experience pain, and if you do, stop right away.
Invest in your health
Take care of your body so it can take care of you – now and for years to come. Devote about an hour each week to build and strengthen your muscles and notice how your body responds and feels.
Online care from anywhere
Turn to our online clinic for diagnosis + treatment of more than 60+ common conditions.
Share this post
Do you know someone who could use a simple & affordable healthcare option?