Updated: Aug 24
Resistance Training: A Scientific Look at Its Profound Benefits
Resistance training, sometimes referred to as strength or weight training, is no longer exclusive to the realm of professional athletes and bodybuilders. Research from various fields, including exercise physiology and gerontology, has been shedding light on the numerous and diverse health benefits of resistance training, making it an integral part of fitness regimes for people of all ages and lifestyles. Let's examine the scientifically supported benefits of resistance training.
1. Augmented Muscle Strength and Tone
The most readily visible benefit of resistance training is improved muscle strength and tone. Resistance training exercises involve muscle contractions against a force, resulting in muscle hypertrophy -- an increase in the size of muscle cells (Schoenfeld, 2010). This not only enhances physical appearance but also contributes to functional strength, making routine activities easier to perform.
2. Increased Bone Density
Resistance training is a potent stimulator of bone formation, crucial for maintaining and increasing bone density. This is particularly important as we age, given the risk of conditions like osteoporosis. A study by Layne and Nelson (1999) showed that high-intensity resistance training increased bone mineral density in postmenopausal women, thereby reducing their susceptibility to fractures.
3. Effective Weight Management
Resistance training plays a vital role in weight management. It's not just about the calories burned during a workout session but also about the post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). Resistance training increases your resting metabolic rate by promoting muscle growth, and muscles are metabolically active tissues that burn calories even at rest (Melby, Scholl, Edwards, & Bullough, 1993).
4. Enhanced Physical Function
Resistance training goes beyond muscle aesthetics, contributing significantly to improved balance, coordination, and mobility. It strengthens the muscles around your joints, reducing the risk of injury. A study by Liu and Latham (2009) found that progressive resistance strength training in older adults led to improvements in functional performance and strength.
5. Favorable Mental Health Outcomes
The psychological benefits of resistance training are gaining increasing recognition. Research indicates that regular physical activity, including resistance training, can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression (Gordon, McDowell, Hallgren, Meyer, Lyons, & Herring, 2017). It also improves sleep quality, crucial for cognitive function and overall mental health (Kredlow, Capozzoli, Hearon, Calkins, & Otto, 2015).
6. Disease Prevention
Resistance training can help stave off various chronic diseases. It has been found to improve insulin sensitivity (Holten, Zacho, Gaster, Juel, Wojtaszewski & Dela, 2004), lower blood pressure (Cornelissen & Smart, 2013), reduce cholesterol levels (Kelley & Kelley, 2009), and decrease inflammation (Strasser, Siebert, & Schobersberger, 2010), which are all key players in overall health and disease prevention.
In conclusion, resistance training, supported by a growing body of research, is a versatile and effective form of exercise with wide-ranging benefits. It can contribute to physical strength, bone health, weight management, functional performance, mental health, and disease prevention. As always, it's recommended to start slow, prioritize proper form, and gradually increase intensity over time. Your body and mind will thank you for incorporating resistance training into your lifestyle!
So, armed with the science, why not give resistance training a shot?