Whether it’s lifting weights in the gym, completing a bodyweight challenge at the park, or using any number of the tools available, strength training is important for your long-term health and wellness.
Strength training is about ensuring you have a functioning body that can do what you need it to, without risk of injury or fatigue. All movement has benefits for health and wellness, but according to the New Zealand Register of Exercise Professionals, strength training comes with added benefits including;
- Increased muscle mass and reduction in the speed of muscle loss as we age
- Increased bone strength
- Better stability and balance
- Ease of completing every day activities
- Lowered blood pressure
Research has indicated that a day spent seated cannot be undone by a single workout. But researchers at the Glasgow University found that people with low grip strength or low fitness levels had faced twice the risk when engaged in long periods of sedentary activities such as watching TV, than on participants who had the highest levels of fitness and grip strength. Risks include a number of conditions including cancer, and heart disease. The researchers believe that increasing strength and fitness may somewhat offset the adverse health consequences of spending a large proportion of leisure time sitting down and watching a screen.
What is strength training?
Strength training is not just about lifting weights, although that is an excellent option.
A great example of integrating exercise to strengthen the cardiovascular system in conjunction with strength training is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). HIIT involves alternating between higher intensity bursts of exercise, with time to rest in between activities, and this high intensity exercise often includes strength training exercises.
The benefits of strength training
The benefits of strength training are not just proven for those who remain active and injury-free; there is increasing understanding that exercise, including strength training, can benefit a range of specific health conditions, especially those that are prevalent in older adults such as arthritis, and Parkinson’s disease.
Traditionally older adults have been recommended to do light aerobic work to improve heart health and balance to decrease the chance of falls. While these two components are still regarded as important, there is also a benefit in participating in strength training which involves using resistance while exercising. This can be exercises with weights, but there are plenty of other options too.
This type of training is not ‘one size fits all’ and as with any physical activity, has some risks. However, by working with an appropriately qualified and registered exercise professional, the exercise and activity can be customised to your specific needs, exercise and medical history, thus minimising risk and maximising results.