Strength training isn't just for big buff guys anymore! In recent years more and more people are adopting strength-based exercise as a way of life. Many forms of exercise are based in strength: rock climbing, yoga, weight training and classes like “body pump”. Strength training benefits include promoting a healthy body (from the inside out), increasing metabolism and building a strong sense of self.
Bonus #1: Increased Metabolism
A person’s metabolism (the amount of energy we burn at rest) is in part based on the amount of muscle mass we have on our body. Metabolism is also based on genetics, the part in which (sigh) we have no control. By increasing the amount of metabolically active muscle tissue we have, we increase the amount of energy we expend, even at rest.
Lifting weights (and lifting our own body weight) helps gain muscle mass, which increases the amount of energy (food) we need every day. Researchers differ on the metabolic increase we get for every pound of muscle. However, we generally understand the following:
6 calories burned per pound of muscle per day
2 calories burned per pound of fat per day
200 calories per pound of kidney per day (looking for a larger kidney?)
So lets say you were to increase muscle mass by 2 pounds and decrease fat by 2 pounds. You would see an approximate metabolic increase of 8 calories per day, which may seem insignificant. However, consider how those small changes will add up. And you will feel stronger, more independent, and ready to take on life!
Bonus #2: Strong Bones
Weight bearing exercise of any sort (walking, jogging, strength training) all increase bone mass. Several studies suggest strength training as the most effective way to keep bones strong over time.
Our maximum bone size and strength is called peak bone mass. Most of us reach our peak bone mass between the ages of 25-30. Genes play a large role in how much peak bone mass we have, but diet and exercise also play a large role.
For diet, maintain a diet high in calcium and vitamin D by regularly consuming dairy products like milk, yogurt and cottage cheese. Almonds and dark green leafy veggies also help contribute calcium to bones. Calcium fortified products like orange juice and some cereals can also boost calcium intake.
For exercise we want to stress the bones so they know they need to get stronger. Adding in a home-based strength program can keep your efforts low (no driving to the gym) and the bonuses high!
Bonus #3: Improved Self Esteem
Strength based exercise creates a sense of power, and connects mind and body, helping you take on the world! The stronger we are, the stronger we feel. Feeling stronger can translate to increased self-confidence and independence.
No gym? No equipment? No problem!! An “at home” strength training program that uses very little (if any) equipment is easy to come by. Check out these links to give you tons of great ideas to get you started:
Grab a friend and commit to getting stronger- each week. Start with 1-2 times per week and increase to 3-4 times per week as you get your routine going. Mix it up by using different on-line workouts. Hiring a certified personal trainer for program design can also be a great use of spending money.