Many of us struggle to find the time and motivation to get the proper amount of exercise every day. Sedentary jobs, busy lives, and confidence issues all play their part. Confusion as to what is the most effective form of exercise can also limit your potential.

Strength training workouts, for example, are often overlooked because it is assumed to be only for bodybuilders, athletes, and the muscle bound. Strength training is actually a great way to improve a wide variety health concerns. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that adults do strength-building activities two or more days a week.

Strength training exercises are efficient and effective ways to stay fit, improve mobility, confidence, and overall health. Besides improving muscle mass, here are eight more ways that you can benefit from this popular type of exercise.

1. Reduce Belly Fat

Never mind the tummy teas or extreme diet trends, strength training workouts are the real deal. Belly fat is such a difficult thing to overcome and a huge detriment to overall health. Most of us are doing cardio or exercises that don’t strengthen abdominal and core musculature.

The key to burning fat in targeted areas like the stomach is increasing lean muscle mass. Strength workouts cause the metabolism to roar and fat to melt away over time. Just think about this : More muscle = a higher demand for calories.

2. Stronger Heart

The fat that surrounds your organs is much harder to target with simple cardio workouts. Strength training can actually burn this fat (called visceral fat) that also sits on and around the heart. This decreases the stress on the heart and improves its capability to pump blood.

Strength training workouts will also lower cholesterol and reduce blood pressure. An argument can be made that strength training is better than cardio workouts in some situations.

3. Balanced Blood Sugar

Engaging the muscles and increasing activity improves glucose utilization. Muscles are taking in and processing glucose at a much higher rate, keeping blood sugar levels in check. As long as you compliment your workouts with a balanced diet, you can reduce your risk for Type 2 diabetes.

4. Reduce Risk of Injury

Weak and small muscles have a harder time maintaining balance and coordination. It also becomes a liability when you have to reach over or lift something outside your usual range. Muscles, tendons, and cartilage have to take on a larger burden and this often leads to injury.

High-intensity strength training for seniors can directly improve mobility, joint pain, back pain, and overall independence. Getting stronger now can prevent future devastating injuries like hip fractures from occurring.

5. Better Mental Health

Exercise is inherently good for your mental health. Exercise causes activation of many areas of the brain, releases ‘feel good’ hormones which is a reward to the brain (dopamine). Strength training, in particular, increases self-confidence, which can be an effective way to overcome anxiety and depression.

The measurable progress of lifting heavier weights is an effective form of positive reinforcement. Muscles can be used as a tool to overcome  many hardships in life when combined with care from your doctor. Exercise therapy should be considered when researching or adding alternative treatments.

6. Improved Dexterity and Flexibility

Contrary to popular perception, building muscle doesn’t make you bulky by default. Bodybuilders that intentionally train certain muscles over others are often ‘bulking’ up. The average person wanting to improve their health can gain muscle and dexterity without excessive bulking. This is achieved with using a weight that allows for 15-20 repetitions.

Lean muscle creates better control over limbs and joints. These muscles in turn support the body through full range of motion. The hamstring, for instance, is vulnerable to overextension and tearing without proper exercise. Making this muscle stronger also increases its size, flexibility, and ability to lengthen/ shorten without injury.

Greater muscle mass around the body’s vulnerable joints may also help to reduce inflammation by keeping joints from moving past its physiological barriers. That extra “cushion” provided by muscles helps reduce wear and tear. Regular strength workouts lower the risk for arthritis and bursitis as you get older via the same mechanism.

7. Preventing and Reducing Osteoporosis

Bigger muscles require stronger bones to support them. The added stress on your bones is crucial for avoiding loss of bone density. As weight and pressure are put on bones, little nano fractures occur and the body works to fill the cracks in, ultimately strengthening the bone without any catastrophic breaks.

Weight-bearing exercise is necessary to increase bone mineral density. This is why astronauts tend to lose bone density in space. Without the force of gravity on their bones, the body slowly demineralizes the bone. A weight bearing exercise includes any exercises that works against the force of gravity, (i.e. lifting heavy weights). Resistance bands are another form of strength training that can achieve these results without putting too much stress on the joints. These are often used during therapy and on fragile populations.

As a muscle contracts, they tug on the attached bone and encourage cells to start fortifying and transporting calcium. Studies have shown that strength training is an effective way to reduce the effects of osteoporosis.

8. Treating Body Dysmorphia

This is a condition that may sound foreign but is more common than you think. People who suffer from body dysmorphia feel as though there is something wrong with their body’s image. This condition can be imagined by the individual, but with the confidence-boosting benefits of strength training, it can be overcome.

Improving how one perceives themselves is more important than actual physical changes in these cases. The fact that strength training can have dramatic positive changes to one’s outward appearance make it a powerful method for improving this condition. As always, you should be working with a mental health professional to be sure it is safe to train with weights.

Try Strength Training Workouts

We hope these eight benefits of strength training workouts have convinced you to try them. Do you feel there is something preventing you from trying strength training? Remember, you don’t need a gym membership to lift weights.

Regular household items can work just fine. Water jugs, cans of food, bricks, boxes filled with books, and cheap resistance bands to name a few. Get creative and stick with the program to build strength.

Learn how to get more exercise, among many other things on our blog.

Before starting any exercise program, talk to your doctor. If you have any underlying back, joint, or other health problems, it could change the approach that is suggested. If you are suffering from a mental health condition, be sure to discuss exercise with your provider.
At Structural Chiropractic , we always offer a complimentary consultation to discuss how we might be able to help you achieve the best results from your training.

If you want to look, feel, and live a better life, it’s time to start working on it now. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to achieve your goals.