Growing up whenever anyone uttered the word ‘exercise,’ it always made me think of aerobic activities like running, bicycling, or an aerobics class. This often led to knowing how many calories I could burn doing whichever aerobic exercise I picked. Not often did I think, “I am going to do strength training today as my preferred form of exercise. I want to get strong.” Yet, as we age, strength training is one of the best forms of exercise you can do to preserve muscle mass, retain strong bones, flexibility, and fitness.
Strength training includes any form of exercise where you are working to increase your body’s muscle mass. This can come from lifting dumbbells or other equipment, using resistance bands, or performing bodyweight movements (think pushups, squats, sit-ups). There are so many reasons why it’s important to add strength training a few times a week to your exercise routine.
Here are five really good reasons to add strength training into your weekly routine.
Helps boost metabolism - Muscle cells require more calories even at rest than fat cells., so naturally having more lean body mass can increase your metabolism
- Preserve bone health and improve bone density - Focus on exercises where there is some impact on the joints like jumping rope, walking, or jogging.
Cardiovascular health - Any exercise that gets the heart rate up for consistent periods of time is great for strengthening the heart muscle and getting good blood flow throughout the body.
Keeping the mind sharp - The focus and attention to repetitions in a workout and challenging yourself when it feels hard are great tasks to build and improve your growth mindset.
Injury prevention – By making sure you have strong muscles (and stretching to retain flexibility) helps with preventing unintentional injuries.
When you consistently add in some strength training to your weekly exercise routine you are building mental, just as much as physical, strength. Putting in the repetitions and doing the same movements repeatedly, building up to heavier weights or more advanced moves (knees down push-ups become knees up push-ups one day) that builds mental strength, putting in the work towards that goal.
New to strength training? Start by adding just 10 minutes a few times a week of bodyweight exercises and build from there. There are several different workout videos online, trainers who provide live or on demand workouts on social media, or workout apps that you can explore and discover what form for strength training feels the best to you and leaves you feeling empowered and energized.