Photo by NithidPhoto/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by NithidPhoto/iStock / Getty Images

Top 10 Science-Backed Reasons to Strength Train

Health experts emphasise the importance of strength training for a good reason. This form of exercise not only builds muscle and strength but also revs up your metabolism and improves body composition. Many gym-goers have never stepped foot in the weights room. According to a 2011 survey, only 0.9 per cent of women engaged in strength training sessions.

The good news is that more and more people realize the benefits of lifting weights. From greater self-esteem to improved physical performance, enhanced cognitive function, and fat loss, this training method can change your life for the better. It might be exactly what you need to get rid of back pain and prevent age-related disorders.

Need more proof? Here are ten science-backed reasons to include strength training in your routine:


Keep Your Bones Strong

The benefits of weight training go beyond hypertrophy. This activity can strengthen your bones, leading to a lower risk of osteoporosis and other musculoskeletal diseases.

Strength training benefits people of all ages, including seniors. As you age, it may help prevent fractures and broken bones. At the same, it increases bone mineral density and strengthens the muscles around your joints.


Build Muscle and Burn Fat

Resistance training is far superior to cardio exercises when it comes to fat loss. This training method improves your body composition aka muscle-to-fat ratio. Furthermore, it boosts your metabolism, so you'll keep burning calories long after leaving the gym.

In a recent study conducted on 249 subjects in their senior years, those who combined diet with strength training experienced less muscle loss and greater fat loss compared to the diet-only group and those who combined diet with walking.

Resistance training promotes muscle growth. The more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism and the higher your energy expenditure throughout the day. Muscle is more important than fat, it takes less space, so you'll look leaner and more defined even if your body weight stays the same.


Ward Off Depression

This form of exercise benefits both your mind and body. According to a meta-analysis of over 30 different studies, lifting weights two to five times per week may help prevent depression and relieve its symptoms.

If you're feeling down, head over to the gym and lift heavy. Your mood will improve instantly.


Reduce Your Risk of Diabetes

Weightlifting is one of the best ways to prevent diabetes or keep it under control. First of all, this training method improves glycemic control and insulin sensitivity.

Secondly, it reduces fat mass, blood pressure, and glycosylated haemoglobin levels, making it easier to manage diabetes symptoms. Thirdly, it decreases abdominal fat, which is a major risk for this condition.


Prevent Heart Disease

The same risk factors that increase diabetes risk can also lead to heart disease. Strength training reduces abdominal fat, improves blood flow to the heart muscle, and lowers resting blood pressure, which results in better cardiovascular health.

According to a study that compared vascular responses to cycling and weight training, the latter has been shown to produce greater increases in blood flow and a longer-lasting reduction in blood pressure. Additionally, strength training is safer for older adults and those with existing cardiovascular problems than aerobic exercise.


Boost Your Self-Esteem

This form of exercise makes you stronger overall, leading to enhanced physical performance. As your strength increases, so does your self-esteem. Once you start lifting weights, you'll feel better about your body and exude confidence.


Keep Your Brain Sharp

The psychological benefits of resistance training are well-documented. This exercise method has been shown to improve both cognitive function and brain plasticity. In a clinical trial, the strength training group scored significantly better on cognitive tests at the end of the study compared to the group that only practised stretching.

Lifting weight can boost your brainpower and prevent or slow down cognitive decline. Plus, it makes you more productive, enhances your thinking skills, and protects against age-related neurological conditions.


Get Rid of Back Pain and Achy Joints

When you suffer from back pain, working out is the last thing on your mind. It might be exactly what you need to get rid of aches and restore your mobility.

This training method strengthens the muscles around your spine and joints while increasing your range of motion. Over time, it may help prevent and relieve back pain - and reduce injury risk.

However, beware that not all exercises are safe for back pain sufferers. Discuss with an experienced fitness professional and ask for advice on what to do and what to avoid.


Reduce Stress and Lift Your Mood

Struggling with anxiety and stress? Look no further. Strength training can reduce anxiety symptoms and relieve stress, no matter your age. A single bout of exercise will lift your mood and decrease anxiety levels.

Health experts can't tell exactly how lifting weights benefits the brain, but they believe it could be due to the physiological and social effects of pumping iron. This activity regulates certain neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, leading to a better mood and feelings of well-being. Plus, it has a social component, which contributes to its stress-busting power.


Balance Your Hormones

Resistance training increases testosterone and growth hormone levels, improves insulin response, and reduces cortisol. Compound movements like the bench press, squats, and deadlifts elicit the greatest hormonal response. This makes weightlifting particularly effective against the hormonal changes that occur with age, such as testosterone decline.

Furthermore, pumping iron can relieve PMS symptoms in women and keep their estrogen levels in check. Excess estrogen is often the culprit behind water retention, bloating, menstrual cramps, and mood swings. Plus, it promotes weight gain and messes up other key hormones.

This list can go on and on. Strength training does a lot more than just shape your body. It's a safe, effective way to keep your heart healthy, increase your brainpower, and lift your mood. Over time, it can add years to your life and ward off chronic diseases.

Get lifting
-Hamish Creighton