Our nutritionists, James Kuhn and Kate Freeman, have put their brains together to create this epic list of health benefits from doing regular resistance exercise.
If the thought of lifting heavy weights in a gym isn’t your thing, don’t stress. There’s lots of different ways you can do resistance exercise. It can be as gentle as an aqua aerobic class, body weight movement such as squats and push ups, taking a walk around the block with small hand weights or lifting a heavy barbell above your head!
Resistance exercise is simply the the action of muscles pulling on bones under load. Or another way of looking at it, it’s your body moving against resistance. So any time you need to push or pull a load, whether small or large, you’re engaging in resistance exercise. When exposed to this kind of movement regularly, your body is forced to adapt. It get’s stronger. It’s this adaptation and improvements in strengths where most of the benefits comes from.
Whatever your level of fitness, whether you’re an endurance runner, epic weight lifter or beginner, regular movement and using your muscles will be a vital daily habit that you’ll reap the benefits of for a lifetime!
Here are 8 benefits of resistance exercise:
Increased muscle mass
The major adaptation that the body undergoes from regular resistance training is that your muscles grow! And they grow in a variety of different ways. The first way is called increased muscle fibre recruitment. This means that your brain starts to activate more muscle fibres to go to work and help with the extra load. The second way is called hypertrophy and is a combination of the muscle cells getting bigger with more contractile components as well as the muscle creating whole new cells! It’s pretty cool! Ultimately, both of these adaptations increases the energy that you burn, not only during exercise but during rest and recovery as well. This is a very good thing! Strong muscles and an increase in muscle mass leads to all of the other benefits listed below.
Increased metabolic rate
Bigger, stronger muscles, that are utilising a larger amount of muscle fibres burns much more energy than small, underused muscles that are sedentary all day. This increase in energy expenditure mean an increased metabolic rate. A higher metabolic rate means that you can eat more food and still maintain a healthy weight. And being able to eat more food and stay at a healthy weight means you’ve got a higher chance of your diet meeting your nutrient needs (vitamins and minerals), provided you’re consuming nutrient rich foods.
Improved insulin sensitivity
Without going into too much detail, insulin resistance is a metabolic disturbance that, if left untreated, leads to type 2 diabetes. Muscles are one of the cells affected by insulin resistance and when they stop listening to insulin effectively, it becomes a big problem. The great news is, moving your muscles regularly and the adaptations that go along with that, increases their sensitivity to insulin and can reverse this metabolic disturbance! It’s quite amazing!
Improved quality of life as we age
Researchers are now ditching the term life span and using the term ‘health span’ when looking at our lives. Who cares if we’re living 20 years older if we’re stuck in bed and can’t handle basic functions on our own. Resistance training and the muscle gaining/retaining affects it confers help to ensure that we’re functional and healthy throughout life.
Improved outcomes from serious injury or illness
Muscle mass has been shown to play a key role in the recovery from critical illness or severe trauma as it can provide amino acids when our bodies needs are greatest, however this isn’t optimal. We also know that muscle strength and function is also critical during the recovery process. The more lean body mass we carry the faster we seem to be able to get back on our feet after debilitating injuries or illness.
I don’t know if it’s just me, but I just feel better when I’m consistently hitting the gym. Confidence, energy levels, body image just all tend to rise. Whether it’s the feeling of working on improving myself or the endorphins that exercise releases, I don’t really care, I just know I feel my best when regularly training.
Prevention of weight gain
We know that weight gain is caused by an imbalance between the energy coming into our bodies versus the energy we expend over a prolonged time. Resistance training in itself will burn energy both during and after the session, unlike low intensity aerobic exercise. We also know that the building, repair and maintenance of muscle requires energy. Plus the more muscle we have, the greater our capacity for work which equals greater energy burnt!
Increased Bone mineral content
Mechanical force on bone is essential for the modelling and re-modelling processes that increase bone strength and mass. While body weight and weight bearing exercises are great at providing direct mechanical force on bones, we actually see the largest voluntary loads from muscle contractions. This is one reason why athletes tend to have greater bone mineral content!
Are you keen to see the result of your regular training program or 10,000 steps a day? Standing on a basic set of scales won’t give you the whole picture. That’s why we’ve ditched the scales and now only offer body composition scans with the InBody570 scanner. This precision scanner measures your exact amount of muscle and fat mass and then tracks your progress over time with a unique scanner ID.
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