[soc_panel color=”blue”]By: Unber Shafiq[/soc_panel]
Many are unaware of the fact that the health benefits of bodybuilding go way beyond getting your muscles strong. Yes, that toned and tanned body which you get from hours of a hard time spent in the gym provides not only an excellent body shape perfect to be photographed, but it also imparts incredible benefits to your overall health. Weight lifting, also known as resistance training, gives you protection from diseases, makes you sharp, improves your sleep, fights your stress and depression, and strengthens your back to prevent a backache.
As advocates of healthy bodies, we have long emphasized the importance of exercises like jogging, running, cycling, but strength exercises and lifting weights are often left for those in search of chiseled bodies. We see aerobic exercises and strength training as two extremes – one used to get a healthy body and the other used to build bulky muscles. Research, however, has repeatedly seen these two as overlapping efforts in gaining health benefits. Those dumbbells you lift in the weight room have stories to tell – stories of body transformations, emotional stability, mental well-being, and prevention from certain illnesses.
15 health benefits of weight lifting
Read on to find out about the health benefits of weight lifting that no one ever told you before. These benefits will help you decide on combining aerobic exercises with weight lifting to get immense health benefits that aerobic exercises cannot provide alone, and for those of you who already have established the weight lifting routine, these benefits will be a motivation and might even excite you to hit the gym.
1. Weight lifting boosts your metabolism.
Muscles are not just toned structures that look beautiful, they are active tissues, too. An active tissue works to burn calories while you are sitting around watching your favorite TV show. Muscles are capable of expanding more energy – burning more calories – as compared to the lousy fat tissue.
Some science student would argue that increasing basal metabolic rate also means you need more calories to perform essential body functions during the day, and that means you need to consume more calories. That’s true; having greater muscle mass requires more calories than you are used to, but those calories do not deposit as fat on your body.
The exciting thing is that even though your weight might creep up, it’s the healthy weight that you are carrying. More importantly, there’s little or no body fat lingering from the body parts; it’s all toned. And whatever unhealthy fat remains, with weight lifting, your body works hard to get rid of that.
Come to think of it, when there is lean muscle mass and lack of unhealthy fat, it all works toward improving your heart health. In fact, the risk of cardiovascular diseases and stroke considerably reduce when your lipid profile is good.
2. Weight lifting protects your bone.
We are taught right from our childhood that how strong bones play an important role in keeping a healthy body, but as people grow old, they start to look into calcium and vitamin D supplement options to get stronger bones. Let me tell you; there’s another thing that can save you from bone pains, joint problems, frequent falls in old age and the resulting fractures. It is weight lifting.
Resistance training creates a force on your bones, and the bones resist that force. In that process, our bones get strong. Researchers now have sufficient data that shows how weight lifting protects your bones from getting weak. It prevents bone loss and potentially increases the bone density. With greater bone density, there are fewer risks of fractures. In a way, weight lifting helps you counterpoise the effects of aging.
3. Weight lifting improves sleep.
A small study was published in Journal of Exercise Physiology Online. The researchers conducted case-control studies on two groups of older adults. One group was enrolled in moderate-intensity resistance training for over a month, and the other group had a sedentary lifestyle. The group involved in resistance training had a better sleep as compared to the other group.
The benefits of weight lifting are far beyond the obvious physical perks. As you progress in your journey to resistance training, you will notice better mood and higher energy levels throughout the day and a quality sleep at night.
Please take note that lifting weights near bedtime can have the opposite effect. It might disrupt your sleep. However, if your timings are right, you are off to a right track.
4. Weight lifting improves your brain function.
A few weeks ago, I did a round-up on foods that boost memory and improve the functioning of our brain. This week, it’s the note that outside the realm of edibles, there are other ways to give your mental capacity a boost, for instance, weight lifting.
In 2016, an Australian study showed how resistance training could help individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The researchers divided the participants – 100 old men and women with MCI – into two groups. One group took resistance training for six weeks (twice a week), and the other group practiced calisthenics and seated stretching. Towards the end of this study, both groups took cognitive tests. The weight lifting folks performed better than the other group. Even their scans showed growths in specific brain areas. It seems like the stronger we get, the better our brain functions.
5. Weight lifting reduces stress.
I am sure you own one of those small stress balls available everywhere. Not sure if you put them to their right use or not, but these balls were introduced to help you in times of stress. The users claim to have their muscle tension and stress relieved when they squeeze the stress ball. Similarly, lifting weights has shown to have positive effects on mood. It can act as an excellent stress relief method. The time you spend weight lifting can serve as the best stress relief time.
The exertion required to lift weight mysteriously takes away the worries. Well, not mysteriously. There’s science involved. Exercise and weight lifting releases endorphins into the blood – the chemicals that fight depression, improve mood, reduce stress and anxiety, and prevent pain. While weight training may appear to be an extra burden in your busy schedule, it really can brighten up your day and mood.
The benefits of aerobic exercise, such as running and swimming, have been studied in greater detail as compared to anaerobic exercises, such as weight lifting. But some studies suggest how well these two forms of exercise can help one fight symptoms of depression. Back in 2004, a study was published in The Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. The researchers followed 40 women and found that both the running and weight lifting participants remained non-depressed during the follow-up time. From this, we can derive that both exercise and weight lifting have a positive effect on fighting symptoms of depression.
6. Weight lifting saves you from diseases.
We already know that healthy diet, exercise, and abstinence from smoking can prevent many diseases, but what about weight lifting? Could it be a preventive measure in our fight against diseases?
Weight lifting can prevent diseases related to high cholesterol and weak bones. So we can count healthy heart and reduced risk of diabetes and other chronic illness in the laundry list of health benefits of weight lifting. They say running is good for your physical and mental health. The same applies to weight lifting.
The research shows that men who lifted weights for two and a half hours each week have 34 percent less risk of diabetes than others. Weight lifting also helps regulate blood glucose in individuals who already have diabetes. According to research, weight lifting increases the growth of white muscle, whereas running encourages the growth of red muscle. It is relevant because red muscle uses fat oxidation for energy purposes while white muscle uses glucose for energy, thereby aiding in the reduction of blood sugar levels.
Weight lifting regulates insulin and lowers inflammation in the body. Science is not yet sure on how weight lifting helps in the reduction of inflammation, but less inflammation surely protects against many diseases.
There is good evidence that resistance training has positive effects on your heart. A study conducted by researchers from Appalachian State University looked at the response of arteries and blood flow after 45 minutes of strength training. It was found that weight lifting resulted in up to 20 percent reduction in blood pressure – a benefit equivalent to taking anti-hypertensive medicines. The improved blood flow maintained for as long as 24 hours in people who lift weights regularly.
7. Weight lifting provides strength and improves balance.
Just one look is enough to know that a person who weight-lifts beholds a lot of strength
With strong muscles, you are able to walk, run, and hike with greater ease. This is one of the reasons that marathon runners are often seen weight-lifting. It improves their running efficiency.
A common misconception among women regarding strength training is that it will make them bulky. It won’t. Women do not have the same levels of testosterone – the hormone that aids in muscle gain – as men, and so they gain strength from such training without increasing in size. Weight lifting also results in strong joints, ligaments, and tendons which in return prevent injury and improve balance. It also strengths your stabilizer muscles.
During our young age, we are not much concerned about balance as it is good at this time and accounts for minimal troubles in our life. Aging, however, makes balance an important aspect of daily life. Poor balance can prevent you from performing daily activities.
Keep in mind that falls are the primary cause of injury during old age.
If you prepare to strengthen your muscles and bones during young age, a considerable decrease can occur in falls and fractures during old age.
Read more: 16 Ways To Reach Your Fitness Goals
8. Weight lifting improves postures and reduces backache.
In keeping up to date with technology, we are all victims of bad posture with hunched back and protruded head to stare closely on our laptop screens. We are already shorter than our ancestors, but the demand to be a user of electronically lit devices also prevents us from walking and sitting straight and hence we look even more shorter. Similarly, sitting in your office chair all day long can wreck havoc on your muscles. It can easily lead to pain and stiffness.
The muscles on your back, shoulders, and core, if strengthened, can help you correct bad posture. Having strong back also prevents lower back pain – a type of pain that is considered a leading cause of disability worldwide and affects 80 percent of adults in a lifetime.
9. Weight lifting boosts your confidence.
A healthy body is your way to a confident life. Subtract stress, anxiety, and low self-esteem from the equation of life, and you’ll see a much better picture.
Weight lifting improves your confidence in many direct and indirect ways. It gives you a sense of achievement, it throws away the stress of daily life, and improves your overall health. These things combine to boost confidence. Even uploading that gym selfie makes you feel amazing.
Read more: 13 Genuine Ways to Burn More Fat
Lifting weight has the potential to change your life in a positive direction. Every day, when you accomplish your goal to hit the gym and do strength training for a specific time, it helps you build self-confidence and gives you greater sense of achievement. You are better able to beat stress, maintain your weight, and protect your body against diseases.
The physical and mental benefits of weight lifting for males and females go beyond your thinking. You might argue that cardio works for you. It does, but weight lifting is necessary to get those muscles accurately toned and get the body in shape. You will notice that weight lifting will improve your life in so many ways.