Strength training; what’s the buzz about? Today we find out, as Capital Physio’s physiotherapist Nat is here to share her knowledge about why resistance training is so great. Not only will it help you get stronger, it will help you feel happier too!
Cardio and strength training
Usually the first thing we think of when we want to improve our general health and ‘get in shape’ is cardiovascular exercise. We start walking more, cycling, jogging… maybe even signing up to a local gym and heading to a spin class. Or perhaps you’re already a keen runner?
Is there anything wrong with that? Absolutely not. The heart is the most important muscle in our body. As such, we should always strive to maintain or improve our cardio-respiratory fitness.
However, resistance training is also really important; there are multiple health benefits that we miss out on if we don’t incorporate it in our lifestyle. Believe it or not, one of these benefits happens to becardiovascular fitness!
What is strength/resistance training and what are the benefits?
Strength training is a type of exercise that improves the strength and endurance of your muscles. This is achieved by performing bodily movements against resistance. This resistance can be created by resistance bands, dumbbells, barbells, gym machines, gravity and even your own body weight.
It helps prevent or manage multiple health conditions.
Historically, public health organizations have focussed on increasing general physical activity and aerobic exercise participation. Their aim has been to prevent morbidity and mortality. However, research shows that resistance training plays an important role in the prevention and management of various chronic health conditions. These include; type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and cancer.
Strength training also has a positive influence on healthy factors such as: abdominal adiposity; blood lipid profile; insulin sensitivity; blood pressure; bone density; and lean muscle mass. So, strength training plays a crucial role in our general health and wellbeing.
It can help manage chronic pain
Nearly half of the UK population (43%) lives with ongoing pain, lasting from months to many years. This pain may be low back pain, joint pain due to arthritis and symptoms of less common conditions like fibromyalgia. Research suggests resistance exercise can help prevent and manage this pain.
In addition, strength training has been shown to improve physical function in multiple chronic pain conditions. Pain is commonly a barrier to resistance training and general physical activity. So, it is very important to discuss these issues with your physiotherapist. They’ll make sure you follow a tailored and safe programme to achieve the best possible outcomes.
Feel happier and think clearer
Having good mental health is important at every stage in our lifetime. It directly influences how we act, think and feel from day to day. Resistance training can have a very significant positive impact on our mood, cognitive abilities and even our self-esteem. It has also been shown to reduce depressive symptoms and anxiety. Individuals who resistance train are less likely to suffer from anxiety and depression – so it can even act as a preventative tool.
Both high and low intensity resistance training programmes appear to benefit our mental health. Why not start to strength train at a lower intensity if mental wellbeing is your main goal?
It can help you get away with that extra slice of brownie (and still look great)
Training with resistance may help you burn more calories over the day through several mechanisms. Firstly, an intense strength training session can make you break a sweat and burn more calories than a regular aerobic session. But it doesn’t stop there; your body needs additional energy to restore and repair itself from micro-trauma in muscle tissue. This leads to an increase in calorie requirement for up to 15 hours. Lastly, strength training can help you build lean muscle. This will further increase your resting metabolism and can lead to a reduction in body fat over time. Eat more and look better? Yes please.
It can make you a better runner
Whether you are an endurance athlete or a recreational runner, strength training can improve your running performance. Multiple studies have shown a significant improvement in performance following resistance training. Furthermore, it appears to increase running economy – this means how efficiently you utilise energy whilst running. In other words, by improving your running economy you require less oxygen to run at a given speed.
Resistance training helps strengthen your tendons, ligaments and improve bone density. This is crucial in the prevention of musculoskeletal injuries. These affect novice runners as well as endurance athletes. Your physiotherapist can conduct a careful screening of muscle weaknesses and imbalances to identify predispositions for certain injuries. They’ll use this knowledge to tailor a strengthening programme. This will help alleviate such issues, thus reducing the risk of injury.
There is significant evidence that strength training is beneficial for sports performance, general, mental and physical well-being. Following a tailored and structured exercise programme will help you feel better and look better. And, hopefully, you’ll find joy in strength training itself!
If you think we can help you, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Click here to find your nearest Capital Physio clinic, where our expert team of clinicians are ready to help you with a personalised treatment programme. Any questions? Contact our friendly Holborn HQ by calling 033 0333 0435 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.