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Why You Should Start a Resistance Training Regimen

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Resistance training is any exercise that makes the muscles contract against a resistance such as a dumbbell, resistance band (such as PTP’s) or your own body weight. Resistance training can be performed to achieve an array of benefits.


Increased muscle strength and power

When the muscles contract against the resistance, the muscle fibres break down (“catabolism”) before regenerating and grow stronger (“anabolism”) during the following rest days (Weil R., 2011). It is therefore important to allow time for recovery between workouts and make sure to fuel the body with protein and other essential nutrients. As a result of making your muscles stronger, resistance training can then contribute to improve posture -especially when the exercises focus on the core of the body - and finally help support the joints and prevent injuries (Fleck S.J. and Falkel J.E., 1986).

Past 20-25 years of age, muscle strength tends to decline both in women and men with an average of 1% decrease each year. Being more active and performing resistance training exercises can greatly contribute to fight this tendency and even reverse it. This can mean a world of difference for older adults as an increase in muscle mass can enable them to perform daily living activities and improve their overall mobility and independence (Well S., 1998; Radakovich J., 1997).

If the resistance training workouts are performed with faster repetitions, it is also possible to improve muscle power, which is a combination of muscle strength and speed of move. Muscle power is particularly useful for sports performance where both strength and speed are required (e.g., kicking a ball in rugby, swinging a club in golf, be the first to reach the finishing line in swimming).

Increased metabolic rate and weight management

Since muscle tissues are metabolically active and require nutrients to repair themselves and grow after a resistance training workout, increasing muscle strength results in more calories being burnt – not only during exercise but also at rest. This “virtuous” circle effect makes resistance training a great way to lose weight and equally maintain a healthy weight.

Increased bone mass and prevention of osteoporosis

Over the past few years, there has been significant evidence indicating that resistance training increases bone marrow density and, by doing so, is a great way to prevent osteoporosis.
It has been estimated that from the age of 30, bone mass starts to decline and, with the menopause, women become even more at risk of osteoporosis, losing on average 2% bone density per year. The hormones assist in maintaining the bone mass density and the thinning of the bone mass has been found to be linked to a change of hormone levels that mainly occurs with age. Fortunately, participating in regular physical activity such as resistance training exercises can delay this process by maintaining bone mineral density.

Research also increasingly suggests that other health benefits of resistance training may include positive effects on insomnia, the cardiovascular function and coronary risk factors (Williams M. A. and Stewart K.J., 2009), glycaemic control in individuals with type 2 diabetes (Irvine C. and Taylor N. F.), obesity, chronic conditions such as arthritis and back pain as well as depression and overall psychosocial well-being (Better Health Channel, State Government of Victoria, 2010). In conclusion, resistance training has a lot to offer, not only for the body but also for the mind so it is definitely something to consider if you are willing to put in the effort.

 

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Sources:

Fleck, S.J. and Falkel, J.E. (1986). Value of Resistance Training for the Reduction of Sports Injuries. Sports Medicine, 3, 61-68

Glanville N. Everything you need to know about resistance training. 25 September 2011. Weight Loss Resources.co.uk. 2000, Weight Loss Resources < http://www.weightlossresources.co.uk/exercise/resistance-training.htm >

Hamdy R., Anderson J, Whalen K, Harvill L. (1994). Regional differences in bone density of young men involved in different exercises. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 26: 884-888.

Heinonen A, Oja P, Kannus P, Sievanen H, Manttari A, Vuori I (1993). Bone mineral density of female athletes in different sports. Bone and Mineral, 23:1-14.

Irvine, C and Taylor, NF. Progressive resistance exercise improves glycaemic control in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a systematic review. Australian Journal of Physiotherapy, 55(4): 237-246.

Karlson M., Johnell O. Obrant K. (1993). Bone mineral density in weightlifters. Calcified Tissue International, 52:212-215.

Menkes A, Mazel S, Redmond RA, Koffler K, Libanati CR, Gundberg CM, et al. (1993) Strength training increases regional bone mineral density and bone remodeling in middle-aged and older men. Journal of Applied Physiology, 74(5):2478-2484.

Nelson ME, Fiatarone MA, Morganti CM, Trice I, Greenberg RA, Evans WJ. (1994). Effects of high intensity strength training on multiple risk factors for osteoporotic fractures. A randomized controlled trial. JAMA, 272(24):1909-1914.

Pocock NA, Eisman J, Gwinn T, Sambrook P, Kelly P, Freund J, et al. (1989), Muscle strength, physical fitness, and weight but not age to predict femoral neck bone mass. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, 4(3):441-448.

Radakovich J. (1997). Prescribing resistance training for elderly patients. Your Patient and Fitness, 11(2):27-30.

Weil R. How does Resistance Exercise work? 25 September 2011. eMedicineHealth. Ed. Stoppler M. C. 2000. WebMD, LLC. 16 April 2008 <http://www.emedicinehealth.com/strength_training/page2_em.htm>.

Welle S. (1998). Resistance training in older persons. Clinical Geriatrics, 6 (1):48-59.

Williams, MA and Stewart, KJ Impact of Strength and Resistance Training on Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors and Outcomes in Older Adults. Clinics in Geriatric Medicine, 25(4): 703-+.10.1016/j.cger.2009.07.003

Note: This article is not meant to serve as medical advice. Please see a medical professional if you have questions about your health and the suitability of exercise programs.