That Aren’t Just About Weight Loss!
1. Increased muscle, ligament and tendon health
When you perform regular strength training it doesn’t just increase the size of your muscle. Strength training for up to 10 weeks can increase strength by more than 100%. Muscle size generally increases by just 4% or 5% but where you will see huge benefits is in strength. This is due to adaptations in your muscles and nervous system. In the first 10-12 weeks of training, you will see huge gains in strength as opposed to muscle size.
As well as increases in muscle strength you will also have improved tendon and ligament health. Thicker, more dense collagen fibers can be gained from strength training. Healthier ligaments and tendons not only reduce the chances of picking up an injury in sport. But, it will also help to reduce general aches and pains.
2. Improved bone health
Better bone health isn’t just for people who already have arthritis, osteopenia, or osteoporosis. Bone health is something which everyone should look after. Good bone health in younger more athletic people can help reduce the chances of fractures or stress fractures that may happen in sports. Good bone health can reduce the chances of injury from a fall as you age. Strength training 2-3 times weekly for just 30 minutes can help to improve bone health in all age groups.
Having good bone health from an early age and keeping it going is much better than combating lower bone mineral density. But, just because you have already developed an issue with bone health such as arthritis or osteoporosis doesn’t mean it’s too late. Osteoporosis and arthritic changes can be reduced with appropriate strength training, weight-bearing exercise, and balance training. Strength training as a treatment for osteoporosis, osteopenia or arthritis with medical treatment is far better than just medication or mineral supplementation alone.
3. Reduce chances of/effects of chronic illness
There are many factors when it comes to chronic illness. Some can’t be changed. Different genders, different ethnicities, different ages are all things you can’t change that may lead to an illness. But, there are also many lifestyle factors that can lead to chronic illness too. With a chronic illness like everything, prevention is better than a cure. Thankfully strength training can be both a treatment for heart issues, COPD, or diabetes as well as a preventer.
1 hour of strength training per week in the absence of aerobic activity has been shown to reduce your chances of having a heart attack or stroke by more than 50%. By increasing lean muscle mass strength training gives more stimulus to the cardiovascular system to pump blood around the body. This reduces the stress on your heart and arteries. Strength training can also help lung issues such as COPD by improving exercise tolerance and allowing the patients to have an improved quality of life.
4. Increased Confidence
Often we see patients at the Pain and Performance Clinic Lucan that aren’t as weak as they are afraid of movement. This can be for a number of reasons. The first reason being that previous experience. It makes sense that you are afraid running will hurt your knees if it has before or if you hurt your back gardening then it’s only common sense to be nervous doing it again.
The second (and more annoying) reason we see people afraid of movement is that they have been told by doctors, other physio, or other healthcare professionals to stop doing x,y or z because it is bad for them.
“Running is bad for your knees” or “weight is bad for your back” are just some of the myths we have to fight against that are spread by doctors, your neighbors, or worse BAD physios.
Strength training can help protect your back and joints so that you can keep doing the things you love i.e. gardening, running, golfing, whatever it may be..
Strength training can give you the confidence and belief that once again you are strong enough to do what you love without pain.
5. Good Mental Health
It’s all too common to hear about mental health and think of “bad mental health” right away. Strength training can help your mental health. Mental health is something that can be trained even if you don’t have a mental health illness. I’m not saying strength training will cure mental health issues entirely but studies have shown that two or more days a week of strength training reduced symptoms in people with mild to moderate depression.
I have a friend who is a psychiatrist. They put it excellently to me once. “The gym isn’t going to cure your mental health illness. But, if you eat crap and don’t exercise you’re going to feel worse. It’s better to have good physical health and a mental health illness than it is to be in poor physical health and have a mental illness too.”
Before I qualified as a physiotherapist I was a personal trainer. I worked at a gym that’s the biggest goal was “fat loss”. While most of our members had goals related to fitness and appearance many began to love training even once their weight loss had plateaued. Still, to this day my most rewarding check-ins with users of that gym were not the woman delighted with her wedding pictures after losing a stone, not the guy who lost 20kg, not the people who completed mini-marathons/ironmans/marathons etc. No, my most rewarding moments were in those check-ins where gym members told me they had stopped taking anti-depressants for the first time in years and felt better mentally than they ever had.
6. Increased Energy
This may seem counterintuitive as surely by strength training you should have less energy because you are expending energy at the gym. But, strength training increases your energy in two ways. Firstly, when you do strength training regularly you sleep much better. Improved sleep quality means more energy. Simples. That’s something that makes sense to all of us.
Now, there is a second more scientific/biological/physiological reason for having more energy from strength training. I won’t bore you with all the details, but, when you strength train it’s not just the muscle fibers that get bigger. Within your muscles, there are cells that help produce energy. As you train you to gain more of these cells. This is to help you have extra energy to do your strength training.
On gym days that means you’ll be using this extra energy to train. But, on your rest days, these cells will be active and because you don’t need them for the gym that day they will instead give you more energy in your daily life. Having extra energy is one of the best perks of strength training. Having extra energy allows you to keep doing the things you love for longer.
If you feel tired and lethargic after a week’s work then you may spend your Saturday lounging to recover. Or worse you spend what little energy you have on doing the boring things like washing clothes or cleaning the house. But, with the extra energy, you have from your strength training you will be more awake, more energetic, and more ready to do what you love on your days off.