Building strength for better health: the benefits of strength training

  • Written by Kelly Weideman

As someone who has worked in the fitness industry for a very long time, there is one exercise routine that I will always swear by - and that’s strength training.

It is an absolutely crucial component of any fitness program and has been proven to prevent sicknesses and illnesses by improving overall health, and reducing the risk of chronic diseases, specifically cancer and heart disease1. One of the most significant benefits of strength training is its ability to promote the retention and increase of healthy muscle mass which improves body composition and contributes to better overall health.

By building and maintaining muscle mass, strength training can help to improve metabolism and promote fat loss, reducing the risk of obesity and associated health problems. Additionally, strength training can improve insulin sensitivity2, which is essential in the prevention of type 2 diabetes. It helps the body use insulin more efficiently, reducing the risk of insulin resistance and diabetes.

Moreover, strength training can also help to reduce the risk of heart disease3. Studies have shown that regular strength training can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which are significant risk factors for heart disease. It can also improve cardiovascular health by increasing blood flow and oxygen delivery to the muscles.       

Strength training can also aid in the prevention of certain types of cancer - it has actually been found to be particularly effective in reducing the risk of breast and colon cancer. It is believed that strength training helps to regulate hormone levels and reduce inflammation, both of which are factors in the development of cancer.

And the benefits of strength training don’t stop there. It can actually also improve bone density, and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. By placing stress on the bones, lifting weights can stimulate bone growth and increase bone density, reducing the risk of fractures and breaks.

Incorporating strength training into your fitness routine can also help to improve mental health4. It has been found to be effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. Strength training releases endorphins, which are hormones that promote feelings of happiness and well-being. It can also boost self-confidence and self-esteem, which are essential factors in overall mental health.

Strength training can be beneficial for people of all ages, including older adults. It can help to maintain muscle mass and bone density5, which can decline with age, and reduce the risk of falls and fractures. Additionally, strength training can improve functional ability, making it easier to perform daily activities.

Strength training exercises can be performed using free weights, weight machines, resistance bands, or bodyweight exercises. Some popular strength training exercises include squats, lunges, deadlifts, bench presses, and bicep curls. It's important to target all major muscle groups for overall health benefits.

And remember, it's important to start slowly and gradually increase the weight or resistance over time. If you’re just starting out, make sure you work with a professional trainer to ensure you’re using correct form and progressing safely to avoid injury.

Measuring muscle mass cannot be measured alone by a bathroom scale. One of the most non-intrusive, cost effective and quickest methods of measuring muscle mass is via bioelectrical impedance technology with a machine such as the Evolt 360 which allows you to baseline your muscle mass and track the progress throughout your fitness journey.

Kelly Weideman is the Co-Founder of leading fitness technology brand Evolt. Kelly was recently the recipient of the Fuel Women’s Fitness Business Summit’s “Fuel Woman of the Year 2023” award in April 2023.

1 Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. (2018, January 2). Strength training is tied to better heart health, study finds. Retrieved May 2, 2023, from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/strength-training-time-benefits/#:~:text=The%20study%20found%20that%20just,who%20did%20no%20strength%20training.

2 Stevens, J. E., & Jakicic, J. M. (2011). Exercise Programming for Insulin Resistance. Strength & Conditioning Journal, 33(5), 41-49. doi: 10.1519/SSC.0b013e318225f8d7.

3 Liu, Y., Wang, J., Zhuang, X., Yang, R., Jia, S., Gao, Z., & Chen, P. (2019). Associations of Resistance Exercise with Cardiovascular Disease Morbidity and Mortality. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 51(3), 499-508. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001822.

4 Harvard Health Publishing. (2021). Exercise for mental health. Retrieved May 2, 2023, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/exercise-is-an-all-natural-treatment-to-fight-depression

5 Endocrinol Metab (Seoul). 2018 Dec; 33(4): 435–444.

Published online 2018 Nov 30. doi: 10.3803/EnM.2018.33.4.435

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