Health Benefits of Strength Training
It is important to realise that strength training isn’t just about body builders lifting weights in a gym. There are endless benefits for your overall health and wellbeing no matter your age or current level of fitness. With some basic guidance and a structured program you would be able to get started with minimal equipment required, so why do it and what are the benefits?
Increased Cognitive Function
Strength training helps to improve energy levels and your mood state due to the release of endorphins. These hormones are known as our ‘feel good’ hormones and are a natural opiate released by the brain. You will receive a similar feeling after you have laughed, enjoyed a piece of dark chocolate or meditated. If endorphin levels are chronically low, you are at an increased risk of depression, anxiety and fibromyalgia. By doing resistance exercise there will also be a controlled stress on the neuromuscular system (muscles and nerves), by performing just a couple of strength sessions a week alongside your chiropractic adjustments this will keep the system healthy and functioning at its optimum level.
Increased Functional Strength and Posture
This benefit may be an obvious one but must not be overlooked. Strength training will increase your capacity to carry out daily tasks reducing the risks of injury. Being able to lift your suitcase into the boot, cutting a hedge or carrying shopping bags all require a certain level of muscular strength and endurance. Whenever you place a load through the muscle this results in micro tears in the fibers which, with adequate recovery and nutrition, will start to become stronger and more able to cope with the increased level of stress. It is inevitable that our bodies will go through the ageing process and this comes with changes which can detrimental if not addressed. Bone density and muscle mass will begin to reduce which can lead to postural changes and an increased risk of injury i.e. falling over and not being able to stand back up. Studies suggest that just two sessions a week of strength and impact training for 30 minutes improved both muscular strength and bone density.
Increased Cardiovascular Health and Weight Loss
It is a common misconception that the only way to loose body weight is by cardiovascular exercise i.e. running or cycling. However strength training increases your resting metabolism which is the amount of energy required to carry out daily activities. So the higher your metabolism the more calories you will burn leading to weight loss. This means after the workout you will continue to burn a higher level of calories throughout the rest of the day as opposed to going for a run. We also cannot forget that the heart is still a working muscle, so asking it to pump blood round the body during exercise will strengthen it resulting it in a reduced risk hypertension lowering the risk of heart disease.
For a basic plan regarding the type of exercise you should be aiming for during the week and the ideal frequencies, take a look at this easy to follow training pyramid.
‘All out’ efforts
10-20 second bursts
Strength training- lifting heavy things
Brief, intense sessions of full body movements
10-60 minutes, 2-3x per week
Move frequently at a slow pace
e.g. walking, cycling, pilates, easy cardio
55-75% of maximum heart rate 3-4 hours per week
So ensure that you maintain regular adjustments from your chiropractor to keep your spine and nervous system healthy alongside a tailored strength program from your sports therapist. This will promote your body to support a healthy posture and ensure it is functioning at its optimum state enabling you to excel during your day to day life.
Remember, a general rule of thumb to maintain strength and mobility keeping you active throughout your years;
“Use it or lose it”