Bodybuilding.com Information Motivation Supplementation
in:
Jen Jewell
fitnessjewell

Ask the Fitness Jewell

"What Are The Hidden Benefits
Of Strength Training?"

Ask The Fitness Jewell: What Are The Hidden Benefits Of Strength Training?

You may know the feeling of looking in the mirror and seeing muscles peeking back at you. This magical tissue is good for more than just flexing.
Q

I'm convinced that weight training is great—especially for my physique! But my friends and family members are the types who need health-focused reasons to do anything. What can I tell them?

I've written a number of articles on Bodybuilding.com about the benefits that strength training offers for your physical appearance, but I get that physique isn't everybody's driving force—at least for the moment. Once your friends experience the thrill of completely overhauling their bodies into tip-top shape, they'd probably allow themselves to be proud of that accomplishment. But of course there are a multitude of other health bennies that simply can't be ignored.

Yes, you read that correctly: strength training not only improves your physical appearance and strength level, but your overall health as well. Part of this is related to reductions in body fat, as you might expect, but it extends far beyond that. Intrigued? You should be. Let's dig deeper!

1
Lower Long-Term Disease Risk

While one of the benefits of cardiovascular exercise can be reduced blood pressure, it's not the only way to bring those numbers down. Some researchers have been suspicious of strength training in this regard, because lifting heavy has been known to cause a short spike in blood pressure. However, resting blood pressure usually drops shortly after resistance exercise; Brazilian researchers have been looking closely at this phenomenon over the last few years. In a number of recent studies, they concluded that a little as an hour of strength training per week can reduce blood pressure enough to drop stroke risk by 25 percent!

Breast cancer beware! Research suggests that regular exercise can reduce your breast cancer risk by as much as 20-40 percent. Increasing your muscular strength in particular can help you to keep your estrogen levels in check. When estrogen gets out of control, it can cause weight gain and other health complications, and over time, it can also increase your risk of breast cancer. Overall reduction of fat also affects your estrogen levels in a positive manner.

Stroke ... check. Cancer ... check. How about diabetes? There's been some interesting research in recent years indicating that it's not just how much fat you have that affects your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, but also where it's located. People who accumulate excess fat inside their muscles are particularly at risk for becoming insulin-resistant and diabetic. Of course, cardio workouts can help control diabetes, but strength training shouldn't be ignored. In 2012, Italian researchers noted that overweight women who incorporated resistance training were able to reduce the fat inside their muscles, which significantly altered their fat metabolism. You see, even though our muscles use glycogen for energy while we lift weights, they burn stored fat between exercises and during rest periods.

And just so we're clear: it only qualifies as a "rest period" if you're working hard before and after it. So get moving!

2
Fewer Sick Days

Plain and simple, those of us who train regularly have stronger immune systems than people who do not. This isn't a license to work yourself into the ground—or into overtraining. But with adequate rest and nutrition, active individuals have been shown to get sick less often. This allows you to save up your sick days and use them wisely—like for heading to the beach, rather than being laid up in bed with the flu! Just be sure to practice your fake cough in case the office calls.

3
Improved Balance

Whoopsies, down you go! Have you caught yourself taking a slight stumble—or tumble—here or there and wondered why? If your balance is a bit off, and it's not just because of the sky-high platforms you wear, it could be because as we age, our ability to balance decreases. This has a lot do with the loss of fast-twitch muscle fibers—the kind that get trained in explosive weight training and sprinting. Sense a trend developing here?

Excess weight also has plenty to do with poor balance. And as I mentioned in my last column , lean muscle burns calories day-in and day-out—35-50 calories for every pound you gain. Fat can't say that. So don't fear muscle; wrap yourself in it!

4
Healthier Joints

A common misconception is that people who exercise frequently are more likely to get arthritis because they "overwork" their joints. However, the opposite is more often true: people who live sedentary lifestyles have a higher risk of osteoarthritis, particularly as they lose muscle mass over time. Lifting weights is a great preventative strategy, because strong muscles are needed to support our joints. For women in particular, strength training can also help maintain bone mass and density, which along with increased balance, can help minimize fall risks and osteoporosis.

The thousands of senior citizens who go to gyms regularly know that weight training is directly connected to moving, feeling, and living better. Don't wait until retirement to discover it for yourself. A well-rounded physical lifestyle simply must include resistance training! Got it? Spread the word. Ready, set, lift!


Related Articles

About The Author

Internationally published fitness model, fitness writer, and certified personal trainer Jen Jewell has maintained a passion for staying active...

RATE THIS ARTICLE
POOR
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
EXCELLENT
OVERALL RATING
7.6

Out of 10
Good
99 Ratings

35

Comments

Showing 1 - 25 of 35 Comments

(5 characters minimum)

      • notify me when users reply to my comment
skeader

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
skeader

Jen Jewell <3 great article to

Aug 5, 2013 7:33pm | report
 
fitnessjewell

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
fitnessjewell

Thank you very much!

Sep 16, 2013 11:04am | report
vkartikv

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
vkartikv

Isn't it strange how people who don't workout have strange excuses such as:
1. I'm too tired to lift
- on the contrary, it refreshes you like nothing else can
2. it will hurt my joints (a point jen has already made)
- on the contrary, a sedentary lifestyle is more likely to cause joint problems
3. I don't want to get big
- well it takes years and years of proper (scientific) eating and training to put on appreciable mass - I know from personal experience!

Aug 5, 2013 8:37pm | report
 
Reverhard

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
Reverhard

lazy people will always be lazy

Aug 6, 2013 2:20pm | report
michaelr575

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
michaelr575

I like the "I dont want to get big" reason! Because, thats why everyone walking out of the gym is bigger than Arnold!!

Aug 8, 2013 5:01pm | report
00Gymrat00

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
00Gymrat00

LOL ... "I dont want to get big" is the excuse I hear at least once a day!

Aug 9, 2013 3:14am | report
fitnessjewell

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
fitnessjewell

Exactly!!! I'm so glad that you all enjoyed the article and could relate to the points discussed throughout! Train hard!!! :)

Sep 16, 2013 11:05am | report
daWizard

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
daWizard

Those of us who know all of these things need to continue to share this info... Theres more to guns and pecs to this... it overall well being that were striving for! Great article!!

Aug 5, 2013 10:14pm | report
 
fitnessjewell

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
fitnessjewell

Thank you very much! Definitely more to working out than simply the aesthetic appeal- we've got to be fit and healthy for the long haul!

Sep 16, 2013 11:05am | report
Bodhiflute

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
Bodhiflute

Ride the waves of destiny, that's all ;)

Aug 6, 2013 12:27am | report
 
NNobeen

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
NNobeen

The world needs to be fit, this article is amazing! Great job Jen :)))

Aug 6, 2013 1:47am | report
 
fitnessjewell

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
fitnessjewell

Thank you very much! Hoping that with every person that stumbles upon this article, they will all take something away from it and become a bit more fit each and every time they hit the gym :)

Sep 16, 2013 11:06am | report
Elleon

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
Elleon

great article! complete truth! people just don't know the benefits of strength training well enough!

Aug 6, 2013 4:46am | report
 
fitnessjewell

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
fitnessjewell

Awesome! Thank you Elleon, I appreciate it and am thrilled that you enjoyed the article ! :)

Sep 16, 2013 11:06am | report
Elleon

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
Elleon

great article! complete truth! people just don't know the benefits of strength training well enough!

Aug 6, 2013 4:46am | report
 
Elleon

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
Elleon

great article! complete truth! people just don't know the benefits of strength training well enough!

Aug 6, 2013 4:46am | report
 
RichardAbs

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
RichardAbs

If there is one woman you are going to listen to then its Jen Jewell.

Not only does she have the 10/10 physique she also has the lovely personality and wealth of knowledge to go along with it.

Great article Jen. Hopefully see you in Vegas.

Aug 6, 2013 7:28am | report
 
fitnessjewell

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
fitnessjewell

Thank you very much, RichardAbs! I appreciate the kind words and am thrilled that you enjoyed the article!
See you at the Olympia- it's right around the corner now!

Sep 16, 2013 11:07am | report
BrotherJacob

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
BrotherJacob

Good article. I know that these are true through experience. (Especially benefit #2). I haven't been sick since I started weightlifting just over a year ago!

Aug 6, 2013 8:39am | report
 
fitnessjewell

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
fitnessjewell

Exactly! My sick days are few and far between now that I've been consistent with my clean eating and workouts for the past few years. Love it!

Sep 16, 2013 11:08am | report
ThinkingBoutIt

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
ThinkingBoutIt

Agree with the fewer sicks day - probably because of a better diet too.

Love being healthy - Good Article Jen!

Aug 6, 2013 12:23pm | report
 
fitnessjewell

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
fitnessjewell

Thank you! And yes, a better overall diet definitely can help prevent sick days. I know it sure has for me! I've been healthier than ever these past few years since truly embracing and living the healthy and fit lifestyle day in and day out and not just sporadically as I did before!

Sep 16, 2013 11:09am | report
bennygood

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
bennygood

Great article, i have posted the link to a few friends/family to read this... B

Article Rated:
Aug 7, 2013 2:18am | report
 
fitnessjewell

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
fitnessjewell

Thank you very much! I appreciate you sharing this with friends and family as well- let's spread the healthy and fit knowledge! :)

Sep 16, 2013 11:10am | report
BuiltforSin

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
BuiltforSin

Last year I stayed sick pretty much all winter. While doing Insanity earlier this year, Feb-Apr, I didn't get sick once.

Aug 7, 2013 8:35am | report
 
Showing 1 - 25 of 35 Comments

Featured Product

Give Us Feedback:
Report A Problem
Site Feedback
Follow Us:
Twitter
Facebook
RSS Feeds
Bodybuilding.com Newsletter

Receive exciting features,
news & special offers from Bodybuilding.com