Everyone is aware that staying active can lead to a longer, happier, healthier life. Exercise keeps you in shape and helps you stay sharp. It improves your mobility, helps you better manage your weight, and even reduces your risks of developing certain diseases.
However, not all forms of exercise are made the same – some are better than others.
Though cardio activities such as running, walking, swimming, and more are certainly beneficial to your overall well-being, if you want to unlock the secret to a longer life, you might want to give strength training a try.
Strength training presents many benefits that can increase your life expectancy, and it can be especially beneficial for older adults who need help managing their weight.
Learn what strength training entails and why it just might be the key to living a longer, healthier life.
What does strength training entail?
Strength training, also known as weight training or resistance training, is a type of low-impact exercise where you use your body weight and additional tools and equipment to build strength, increase your muscle mass, and improve your endurance.
It’s commonly confused for bodybuilding, though the purposes of these disparate exercises differ. Whereas the main point of bodybuilding is to increase muscle volume, aka make your muscles bigger, the main point of strength training is to improve performance – building muscle is a welcome side-effect.
The benefits of strength training
Strength training is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Take a look at just some of its main benefits.
Improved heart health
It’s not only cardio exercises that are good for your heart health. Studies have shown that regular strength training can improve cardiovascular disease risk factors, ensuring greater heart health.
Some of the main cardiovascular benefits of this type of training include lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, improved circulation, and improved heart and blood vessel health.
Lower chances of developing diabetes
Strength training can be beneficial to those who want to avoid developing diabetes, as well as those who need help managing their diabetes.
Primarily, it can help you maintain a healthier body weight – one of the key factors that impact the onset of diabetes.
Secondly, it helps you build muscle mass, which has been linked to better insulin sensitivity. Additionally, as muscle cells remove glucose from the blood, higher muscle mass can help you manage your blood sugar levels.
While it doesn’t initially seem like it, strength training can work wonders for building stronger bones.
Though training with heavy weights temporarily puts excessive stress on your bones, which may appear disadvantageous, it’s highly beneficial for developing higher bone density.
By increasing your bone density, strength training can reduce your risks of breaks and fractures and even prevent the onset of osteoporosis.
Minimized risks of Alzheimer’s
Although more research is needed to provide conclusive evidence, studies suggest that strength training could minimize the risks of developing Alzheimer’s.
In a small study conducted by researchers at the University of Sydney, older adults with a high risk of Alzheimer’s experienced a significant reduction in cognitive deterioration after just six months of resistance training.
Lower risk of injuries
As strength training helps to build muscle mass and increase bone density, it comes as no surprise that it can significantly reduce your risks of injuries.
It’s one of the best exercises for improving posture, increasing mobility, and improving flexibility. It can help you keep a better balance and improve your range of motion, preventing fall-related injuries and even helping you recover faster after an injury.
How much strength training do you need to enjoy its benefits?
As a general rule of thumb, between 30 and 60 minutes of strength training per week is enough to improve your heart health, lowering your chances of developing diabetes, building stronger bones, minimizing your risks of developing Alzheimer’s, and lowering your risks of injuries.
However, if you’ve never had strength training before, it’s best to lean into it slowly. Start with short training sessions using your body weight only, then slowly introduce free weights and additional tools and equipment as you improve your performance.
Strength training is beneficial for people of all ages and genders. From improving your heart health to lowering your risks of diabetes and reducing the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s, it’s a well-rounded type of exercise that can ensure your longevity and improve your quality of life.