Are you looking into the benefits of weight training? We all know how important it is to get the proper amount of exercise per week to ensure you’re living the healthiest life possible. But, are you sure how much you’re supposed to be working out and what type of workouts are best? Many Americans operate under the false pretense that weight training is bad for you or is only important if you’re trying to look like a bodybuilder. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Here are some reasons why Dr. Amanda Dee Baes and the team here at Healing Hands Chiropractic believe you should focus more on weight training.
It’s Not All About Muscle
Of course, one of the biggest reasons why people work out – especially those younger in age – is to build muscle mass. The prevailing thought is that if you want to build muscle and look like a bodybuilder, you lift weights. In fact, this actually turns some people off of weight lifting because they don’t want to build too much muscle.
Contrary to popular belief, building muscle has much more to do with specialized and intense training and nutrition than it does weight lifting. Most doctors and healthcare specialists highly encourage you to lift weights, even if building muscle isn’t your number one priority. This is because weight lifting offers numerous benefits beyond building muscle. Here are five of those benefits:
1. Better Cardiovascular Health
One of the biggest advantages of weight lifting – and working out in general – is that it boosts your cardiovascular health. Abdominal fat – also known as visceral fat – sits in and around the vital organs, including the heart. Weight lifting can prevent or reduce the amount of excess abdominal fat through strength training.
More than that, studies suggest that weight training has a more direct impact on a healthy heart. Studies have found that those who regularly strength-train have better-functioning good cholesterol levels compared to those who rarely or never lift weights. In fact, strength training improves blood pressure and triglyceride levels similarly to cardiovascular exercise.
2. Reduced Risk of Cancer
Fat near the heart increases your chances of developing heart disease and diabetes, both of which are leading causes of death in America. This fat can also increase your chances of developing cancer. Research has shown that visceral fat cells produce high levels of a cancer-triggering protein called fibroblast growth factor-2.
Believe it or not, results from recent studies show that muscle mass can be a strong predictor of
cancer treatment outcomes. Muscle wasting is a common complication of cancer treatment and is associated with a higher risk of chemotherapy toxicity, faster tumor progression, and lower survival rates. Simply put, the more you lift weights the higher the chances of a positive cancer treatment outcome.
3. Lower Risk of Injury
Having a good muscle base can help make everyday life easier, it can also help prevent injury and help the body recover from injury. Without a strong base, more stress is placed on the connecting tendons of your muscles, which can result in tendonitis. This can lead down a path of no exercise, as tendonitis makes it difficult to move and work out comfortably.
Strength training also increases the number and diameter of collagen fibrils in tendons to increase their strength and help prevent injury. By increasing your muscle mass, it’s also easier for your body to recover from injury. This is because your body will have an easier time replenishing any lost muscle mass due to injury.
4. Improve Your Mood
It’s no secret, we feel better about ourselves when we go to the gym versus when we don’t go to the gym. You may have heard of a ‘runner’s high’, but strength training can also provide the same mental health benefits. Exercise-triggered endorphins play a role, but strength training also provides an opportunity to overcome obstacles in a controlled, predictable environment, increasing mental resilience.
Researchers believe that using low to moderate weights that are lighter than 70% of what you can lift for one rep has the greatest effects on anxiety. The benefits of working out go deeper than that, however. By improving symptoms of clinical depression and anxiety, the chances are higher that you go and work out on a regular basis. Depression and anxiety are some of the leading contributing factors as to why people struggle to work out consistently.
There’s also the fact that working out improves our body image. This can have a tremendous impact on the way we feel about ourselves, our self-confidence, and our levels of anxiety. As you can imagine, this improves our overall mood.
5. Improved Brain Health
The older we get the more and more focused we become on cardiovascular health and the health of our body, all with good reason. However, it’s incredibly important that we also focus on the health of our brains. Studies have found that strength training can improve brain power across a lifetime but the effects are stronger among older adults suffering from cognitive decline.
The way working out can help us achieve this is by getting the blood flowing, as an increase in the flow of blood helps more oxygen and nutrients get to the brain. Of course, diet and nutrition also play a huge role in improving our brain health. You can couple strength-training with a health-brain diet to get the most out of your workouts.
Don’t Overwork it!
Just because strength training provides huge health benefits doesn’t mean you should overdo it. In fact, overextending yourself can erase any of the positives and can actually be harmful to the body. Most experts recommend lifting around 70% of what you feel you can lift per rep.
This can help prevent injury, which as we mentioned before, can lead down a slippery slope of causing you to lose track of your fitness. If you feel too sore, or you fear you may have tweaked a muscle, take a couple of days off or focus on another part of the body. It’s better to give yourself a rest now rather than being forced to rest for months at a time because of an injury.
Did you know Chiropractic care can help treat chronic back pain, sports injuries, and auto accidents?
Get in touch with Dr. Dee at Healing Hands Chiropractic today for an initial consultation!