The benefits of strength training

Linda Whike

Linda Whike - Credit: Archant

Strength training can benefit your overall health, from reducing the risk of osteoporosis to improving sleep patterns and fitness, as Consultant Physiotherapist, Linda Whike explains

At any age there is a great advantage to taking up strength training, and these benefits are even more important from our 40s to our 90s. My oldest patient is doing his twice weekly bespoke gym programme at the age of 92!

Strength training is a type of physical exercise specialising in the use of resistance to induce muscular contraction, this helps to build the strength, anaerobic endurance, and size of skeletal muscles. Sensible resistance training involves precise controlled movements for each major muscle group.

It helps assist weight loss as more muscle uses more calories. So for every additional pound of muscle you gain, your body burns around 50 extra calories every day of the week, even while you are sleeping. Talking of which, strength training also improves sleep pattern and reduces depression as exercise has a beneficial effect on hormones and chemical transmitters, with increased levels of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. This can help to improve mood and counter feelings of depression.

Research shows that all round there are considerable benefits to a strength training exercise programme including:

• Reduces injury risk

• Reduces the risk of osteoporosis - we lose bone density from the age of 30, resistance exercise loads the bones and the body reacts by increasing bone mineral density

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• Reduces the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes as increased muscle requires more energy and takes sugar from the blood vessels

• Improves sporting performance

• Improves cholesterol level

• Improves posture and balance

• Helps arthritic joints become less painful as they are more supported

In order to have a specific strengthening programme that is to be of maximum benefit, you need to ensure that the exercises are not going to cause pain in any other areas of your body where there may already be previous injuries or joint problems. Therefore it is important to have an individual consultation with a professional physiotherapist who will be able to advise you on the best form of exercise that is right for you and your body.


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