I sometimes equate exercise with purely cardio workouts and think of strength training as an added bonus to my fitness routine (if I have the time or feel up for it).
While looking at how to make my workouts more effective, I found that numerous clinical studies confirm that a balanced fitness routine, one that incorporates both strength training and cardio in a regular schedule every week, is the best way to prevent and protect from a slew of chronic conditions. A balanced routine also improves the way you feel overall.
Here are 5 of the very important reasons to add in strength training to your fitness schedule if you haven’t done so already:
- Studies have shown that resistance training can have a meaningful positive effect on anxiety and fatigue. In a comprehensive article published by O’Connor, Herring and Caravalho (2010) in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine here, they reviewed the results of 7 studies that looked at anxiety symptoms and the effect of resistance training and concluded that “strength training alone consistently reduces anxiety symptoms among healthy adults“. Additionally, while reviewing studies on fatigue, they found that while all exercise helped with reducing fatigue scores, strength training had longer lasting improvements.
- You can develop stronger bones with proper weight bearing exercise. According to this Mayo Clinic article, stronger bones are one of the many positive outcomes of incorporating strength training into your fitness routine. The Mayo clinic staff recommend adding in 2 sessions of strength training exercises per week – each of which cover all the major muscle groups using a weight or resistance level heavy enough to tire your muscles after 12 to 15 repetitions.
- You build muscle mass which in turn helps with keeping excess weight off. Dr. Church, professor of preventative medicine at Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University, cited in this SELF article, confirms that research suggests that each pound of fat burns approximately 2 calories per day at rest whereas each pound of muscle burns 6 calories per day at rest. It is important to note that we can increase our total calories burned at rest by adding muscle mass and reducing fat.
- You can reduce the risk of getting type 2 diabetes. A Harvard School of Public Health and University of Southern Denmark study described here, concludes that even a short session of weight training per week may help with the reduction of type 2 diabetes risk. A combination of weight training and aerobic exercise was found to have the greatest benefit.
- You can help prevent injury to your joints. Targeted strength training helps strengthen muscles around the joints which can in turn increase your range of motion and provide protection against joint injuries. If you currently have painful joints due to arthritis, this Harvard Medical School article recommends being careful and working with a physical therapist or a health care professional well versed in adapting exercises to unique health needs.
As with all exercise, it is important to start slowly, learn proper form from an expert and talk to your doctor about incorporating something new into your fitness routine especially if you have specific health concerns.
Are you more cardio focused in your fitness routine or do you incorporate a good mix of cardio and strength training?