The benefits of building muscle mass are abundant. Referred to as “strength training” or “resistance training,” these methods of muscle building include incorporating various types of repetitive exercises that challenge all the major muscle groups and lead to improvements in strength. Although aerobic exercise has often received much attention in previous years, we now know just how important it is to incorporate resistance training into our movement routines. Here are some of the benefits to resistance training.
Quality of Life. We lose muscle mass as we age, which can lead to decreased strength and mobility and an increase in frailty and falls. It is essential for all adults, especially older adults, to resistance train to preserve muscle mass for increased quality of life and functional independence.1
Diabetes. Numerous studies have demonstrated that increasing muscle mass by way of resistance training has shown improvements in insulin resistance and glycemic control. Resistance training is associated with a decreased Hemoglobin A1c (the blood measurement used to diagnose diabetes) and visceral adipose tissue (a hormonally active component of body fat). Resistance training is recommended for both the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes.2
Heart health. Though we often think of aerobic exercise such as running or biking as the kind of exercise to encourage for heart health, resistance training has been found to be at least as effective in reducing cardiovascular disease risk factors. Resistance training can lead to reduced resting blood pressure and improved lipid profiles (decreasing the LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol and increasing the HDL ‘good’ cholesterol). 2
Mental health and body image. The benefits of resistance training go beyond our physical. Studies have found that resistance training positively impacts our mental wellbeing. People who incorporate resistance training report improved mood, body image, and cognition, along with reduced depression and anxiety. 2
1.Trombetti, A., Reid, K.F., Hars, M. et al. Age-associated declines in muscle mass, strength, power, and physical performance: impact on fear of falling and quality of life. Osteoporos Int 27, 463–471 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00198-015-3236-5
2. Westcott, Wayne L. PhD. Resistance Training is Medicine: Effects of Strength Training on Health. Current Sports Medicine Reports: July/August 2012 – Volume 11 – Issue 4 – p 209-216. doi: 10.1249/JSR.0b013e31825dabb8