Most folks understand the benefits of a daily aerobic workout such as brisk walking, bicycling or swimming. However, you may be missing a critical fitness component if you skip strength training. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strengthening exercises are both safe and effective for women and men of all ages, including those who are not in perfect health. In fact, people with health concerns—including heart disease or arthritis—often benefit the most from an exercise program that includes lifting weights a few times each week.
- Arthritis Relief
Tufts University recently conducted a strength-training regime with older men and women with moderate to severe knee osteorarthritis. After 16 weeks, the subjects reported that their pain was decreased by 43%. What’s more, they increased muscle strength, general physical performance and decreased disability. Similar effects were found in subjects with rheumatoid arthritis.
- Better Balance
As we age, poor balance and flexibility can be the perfect storm for debilitating falls. However, strengthening exercises can increase your flexibility and balance and decrease your chance of life-changing falls with their resulting bone fractures. One study in New Zealand in women 80 years of age and older showed a 40% reduction in falls with simple strength and balance training.
- Healthy Heart Tissue
Strength training is key for cardiac health because heart disease risk is lower when your body is leaner. In fact, one study found that cardiac patients gained not only strength, but also aerobic capacity when they included strength training in their rehab program.
- Fat Burning
Those who strength train burn more calories than their non-weight training friends. That’s because after each workout your muscles demand energy to mend fibers. According to the CDC, strength training can provide up to a 15% increase in your metabolic rate, which is a very helpful in the battle of the bulge.