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Want to get stronger, leaner and healthier? Try strength training

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

So what is strength training? Strength training is a type of physical activity which focuses on the use of resistance and weights to induce muscle contraction which builds strength. It’s a part of life that lean muscle mass naturally diminishes in your body with age. As a result you will increase the percentage of fat in your body if you don't do anything to replace the lean muscle you lose over time. Strength training can help you preserve and enhance your muscle mass at any age.

While most of the overall life improving benefits of exercise can be gained through strength training, there are some specific benefits that make adding resistance to your exercising worthwhile.

Heart disease - According to recent research reported out of Iowa State University, as little as an hour a week of lifting weights results in a 40-70% reduction in heart attack or stroke risk independent of other exercise. Perhaps the most interesting part of the study was the volume of weight training required for this result with just an hour a week, with the percentage reduction of risk of cardiovascular disease, not increasing with resistance training above this. So small quantities in a week can pay real dividends!

Diabetes - With type 2 diabetes on the rise, and a healthy lifestyle being such an important prevention and management tool, it’s no surprise that researchers would be looking at how to best harness physical activity. A recent study from the Mayo Journal reports that moderate muscle mass reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes by 32%. These results were separate from cardiovascular exercise (like using a treadmill or walking), meaning strength training alone gave protection, although a combined programme is recommended for all round health.

Osteoporosis - One of the factors that affects those with osteoporosis is the increased chances of broken bones, especially as balance is compromised with age and inactivity, leading to increased falls. In fact, approximately 1 in 3 people over the age of 65 will fall in any one year. Osteoporosis will increase the chances of these falls leading to fractures. Once again, exercise comes to the rescue. While weight bearing exercise is the gold standard in osteoporosis prevention, it is balance exercises that assist most in falls prevention.

Many people find using a dedicated exercise facility or gym is the way to go to do their strength training. This is because they have a range of equipment you wouldn’t have available otherwise, and help is on hand when you need it. However, if you are looking at exercising out at home or somewhere other than a facility, then you can get your strength training workout with the help of some easily found tools. The easiest is of course your own bodyweight, whether it’s squats, lunges, push-ups, or one of the endless variety of exercises, there’s no reason you can’t get fit using you.

And finally it’s important to get the right advice to avoid the risk of injury, and to get the best results and motivation for the life long benefits of strength training.

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