Why Strength Training is Important
Recently, one of my clients was telling me about a trip she took to Florida to visit a friend who had given birth to her first child. My client told me that she spent all weekend carrying the 15-pound child around, but rarely felt fatigued in doing so.
That same client has struggled with ACL and Meniscus tears in her knees from playing sports in the past. These seemingly unrelated aspects of the same client highlight the many benefits that come from strength training, including improved resilience to injury and illness, improved mood and hormone regulation, and improved capability in everyday life.
Strength training, sometimes called resistance training, is training our muscles to become stronger by making them work against resistance. The resistance can come in many forms, such as the resistance provided by gravity and heavy weights, or the resistance created in elastic bands as they stretch. While many people associate strength training with bodybuilders or athletes, it is actually an important form of exercise for people of all ages and fitness levels.
Benefits of Strength Training:
Improved Strength For Everyday Life
Strength training can make our lives easier by improving our ability to:
Go up and down flights of stairs
Pick up our children and pets
Think back to my client being able to easily hoist her friend’s baby around all weekend. She has spent enough time strengthening her arms, shoulders, and back that carrying that not-so-small child around wasn’t difficult or fatiguing.
Makes You Physically Resilient
Strength training improves our resilience to injuries and illnesses, despite common misconceptions that it negatively affects our connective tissues. This isn’t true at all. Strength training has been shown to improve:
The aforementioned client played collegiate soccer; but, her soccer coaches never once had her train in the weight room. Unfortunately, this client suffered career ending knee injuries that potentially could have been avoided had a proper strength program been implemented into her training.
You don’t have to be competing in any sport to reap the benefits that strength training provides for our connective tissues. Anyone who is looking to become more resilient and injury-resistant, from weekend-warriors doing their favorite recreational activities like skiing, hiking, or running, to older populations who are dealing with osteoporosis, will see these benefits from strength training. The stronger our muscles and tissues are, the less likely we are to sustain injuries, regardless of lifestyle.
Improves Your Energy and Stress Levels
A question we ask all our clients when they first start training with us is “what are the biggest sources of stress in your life?” The answer is almost always work. Dealing with stressful coworkers and bosses can greatly increase our daily stress levels, which has serious health ramifications over time.
Hormones, the chemical messengers in our bodies, play a pivotal role in innumerable bodily functions, including how we experience stress. A stressful day at work leaves us feeling tired and emotionally drained, partially because of our hormonal response.
Strength Training improves all of these things by:
Upregulating anabolic hormones, the hormones that make us feel energized and build new tissues in our body
Regulating hormones like the stress hormone cortisol, which break tissues down in our body
Increasing sensitivity and reactivity to hormones, which helps improve our metabolic processes, like how we digest food
As a result, consistently doing strength training can make us feel like we have more energy and vigor, and can help lower chronic stress levels.
Overall, an individualized strength training program, performed consistently, has numerous benefits that make it one of the best ways to reach one’s fitness goals, as well as increase overall longevity and quality of life.