So many people are just waiting for this special, magic pill to help them feel better, lose weight, shed body fat, and improve cognitively–all at the same time. Yes, science has made significant strides in the past decade when it comes to medications and pharmaceutical aids to ease some symptoms that stem from different illnesses and pathologies.
However, you better not hold your breath if you’re waiting for an easy way out of a healthier and fitter body.
It takes doing the hard things–day in and day out–to get the results that we want. This means we need to:
-Get enough, quality sleep
-Eat a nutrient-rich diet
-Manage stress in a positive, healthy way
For this article, I’m going to hyper-focus on how lifting weights offers significant health benefits, outside just developing a more flattering physique. Lifting weights can:
Add years to your lifespan. Evidence shows that people involved in strength training are less likely to die prematurely.
Lead to better physical functioning. This includes improved metabolism, healthy body weight, and improvement in blood pressure.
See postural changes. When done properly, people can see postural differences after they start strength training. A stronger core, back and pelvis all play a major role in how we maintain good posture and prevent aches and pain.
Keep our bones and joints strong. Flexibility and mobility are both important in terms of self-care and preventing certain injuries, but strength training is the key to keeping our bones and joints stable and capable of withstanding stress placed on the body. Evidence shows that when tissue is exposed to mechanical loads greater than those experienced during every day activities, this stimulates osteogenic effects, where the bone tissue becomes stronger. Strong bones mean you are less likely to develop osteoporosis or succumb to fractures.
Improve your mental health. We always want to look at the physical and physiological benefits of strength training, but we can’t forget how beneficial it is for our mental health. Lifting weights has been shown to reduce anxiety and fatigue symptoms, all thanks to the feel-good endorphins that are released when you lift weights. Not only that, but seeing lifting improvements and setting PRs in the gym are confidence boosters alone!
Sharpen your brain. You may find that cognitive performance improves when you start regularly lifting weights. There is evidence that shows with the benefits we get from improved cognitive performance through strength training, you also get protection from degeneration in specific subregions of the hippocampus, which is a structure in the brain that is majorly responsible for learning and memory.
Lead to better sleep. This can depend on when you work out (some people will say that working out in the evenings can disrupt your sleep), but overall, strength training does wonders for catching some ZZzzzzs. Many of us are pretty stagnant, so even though we tend to be overly anxious and mentally exhausted, we’re physically not getting pushed enough for our bodies to be tired. Adding strength training to your routine improves your resting metabolic rate due to an increase in lean muscle tissue–this means you are burning more calories throughout the day. Burning more calories at rest, and during your workouts, means you are more likely to be fatigued (and opt for more sleep!).
I could go on and on, but to conclude, resistance training can lead to other positive changes that truly make you feel better, and more confident. It’s been shown that healthy habits lead to other healthy habits–resistance training has a substantial impact on overall health, but it works even better when practiced in conjunction with quality sleep, proper nutrition, and other self-care practices to reduce stress.