By: Yvette Styner, CHN
You don’t need to be a bodybuilder to reap the tremendous health benefits of strength training.
Nor do you have to join a gym.
Nor buy super-fancy equipment.
Want to know why I recommend lifting weights (a.k.a. “resistance training”) for people of all ages?
DID YOU KNOW that after age 50 you start to lose 1% or more of your muscle mass per year? That’s up to 30% loss by the time you’re 80! So the more lean muscle mass you have before age 50, the better. If you’re over the age of 50, the more you lift weights, the slower your rate of loss will be. Why settle for 1% loss, when you can keep your strength even longer?
Lifting weights is not just about muscle “mass” and “strength” though. It’s a great way to maintain good health for just about everyone at any age, whether you’re athletic or not.
Here are five key health factors that are improved with increased muscle mass.
REASON #1 – BOOST YOUR METABOLISM
Yes! We all want a nice, healthy metabolism to help us maintain a trim physique, right? We want to have energy, and be able to burn the right amount of calories from our foods. Muscles are quite magical in this regard – they can burn more calories than fat tissue, even when they’re not working! (Who doesn’t want this?)
Less muscle mass is also associated with increased fat stores, as well as increased inflammation.
So, lifting weights can build up your muscles so they become more efficient metabolism-boosters, calorie burners, as well as less fat storage and inflammation.
REASON #2 – STRENGTH TO DO EVERYDAY THINGS
Lifting your groceries.
Mowing your lawn.
Carrying things up from the basement.
You might take these things for granted now, but one day they will be very important. These everyday things help us maintain our independence. They’re things that we’ll be able to do on our own for longer if we have healthy muscles to rely on.
REASON #3 – MANAGING YOUR BLOOD SUGAR
Diabetes. Insulin resistance.
When your body has trouble maintaining healthy amounts of sugar in your blood (not too much, and not too little), this can cause both short- and long-term issues.
Short-term issues can include things like fatigue and brain fog. And, of course, long-term issues are the potential for insulin resistance, or even diabetes.
DID YOU KNOW that having healthy, strong muscles can help your body maintain proper blood sugar control?
They’re able to do this because they can store and burn excess blood sugar, therefore helping to keep blood sugar levels in just the right place.
REASON #4 – MAINTAINING BONE HEALTH
Do you know anyone who has broken a bone? What about someone who broke their hip?
As you may know, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men end up with osteoporosis. Bones that break easily, from a simple slip on soft grass or even carpet.
DID YOU KNOW that muscles help your bones stay strong?
When your work your muscles, even gently, they pull on the bones to move you around. This sends signals to your bone-building cells that they are needed, and promote the formation of new bone growth. Strength training = new bone growth.
This doesn’t happen so much when muscles aren’t pulling on them. When the muscles get weaker from lack of use, the bones follow suit. Additionally, strength training improves balance and reduces the risk of falling, both of which reduce risk of breaking bones.
REASON #5 – LONGER LIFE, BETTER QUALITY OF LIFE
If none of the above reasons resonate with you (but they probably do…), then this one will surely get your attention.
Fact: More muscle mass and strength as we age is directly associated with longer life AND better quality of life. For real! Numerous studies show lower rates of heart disease, cancer, mental disorders, etc.
Bodybuilder or not, you can (and probably should) lift weights to maintain good health. Blood sugar and weight management, bone health, maintaining independence longer in life, improved balanced and reduced injuries, and improved quality of life are among the many reasons strength training benefits us at all ages. Dumbbells or soup cans, in a gym or in your kitchen, start working those muscles today!
Yvette Styner, CHN
Certified Holistic Nutrition
NPAA Elite Pro Figure-Fitness
Dynamis Natural Athlete