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Benefits of Strength Exercise and Resistance Training OTHER THAN Weight Loss

Posted Aug 12 2008 8:02pm

Here are some quick facts about why you should include strength or resistance training into your exercise regime…

  • Each day ~275 adult Australians develop Type 2 Diabetes. This is the diabetes that occurs due to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance occurs in skeletal muscle. During exercise, muscle glucose uptake is increased by 7-20%. Before 2000, most exercise recommendations focused on aerobic exercise. Recent research has revealed that resistance exercise and strength training (ie lifting weights) increases insulin signaling in skeletal muscle. (Because this training converts 2b muscle fibres to 2a, which are more insulin sensitive.) Thereby reducing risk of Type 2 Diabetes
  • Studies have shown that high intensity resistance training has led to the greatest improvements in HbA1C (where Haemoglobin gets covered in glucose residue). HbA1C is the test that predicts the long-term ability of a person to manage Blood Sugar Levels without insulin injections. Exercise will improve HbA1C, even in the absence of weight loss.
  • Decreases risk of Cardiovascular Disease
  • Decreases systolic blood pressure (which reduces strain on your heart)
  • Decreases fat (including abdominal fat)… the more muscle your body has the more fat you burn (a muscular body is a fat burning machine!!!)
  • Improved arthritis, mental health, and sleep apnoea
  • Increased Bone Density (extremely important for post menopausal women, as this is the time when Calcium is being stripped from your bones).
  • Increased Strength, mobility and independence (As we age, we are fighting against muscle loss and decreased bone density)
  • Increased energy
  • Studies have shown that Cancer Patients have benefited from weight training.
  • Studies have shown that weight training combined with high intensity anaerobic exercise (like boxing etc) is the best form of exercise and promotes a leaner form as it uses more triglycerides (fats) than you would under normal exercise.

Okay…now some facts about combining cardiovascular exercise with your strength training…

  • 80% of cardiovascular disease and Type 2 Diabetes and 40% Cancer can be prevented by eliminating the following major risk factors… unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and smoking.
  • Low fitness has been shown to be one of the biggest risks for cardiovascular disease (even bigger risk than cholesterol and high blood pressure).
  • Physical inactivity ranks second only to tobacco use as a risk factor for all chronic diseases (ie CVD, Cancer, and Type 2 Diabetes).
  • Strength training increases muscular power which helps with preventing “Falls” in old age
  • When the body is stressed it produces Cortisol. The body’s response to Long-Term Stress is: Retention of Sodium and Water in the Kidneys, Increased Blood Volume and therefore increased Blood Pressure, Increased Blood Sugar Levels, Insulin Resistance, Mood Changes and Suppression of Immune System. Weight training helps reduce stress by providing a physical release to reduce Cortisol. Excess cortisol also causes the body to lose muscle, it reduces metabolic rate, increases appetite, interferes with serotonin (which in turn makes us depressed), accumulates fat and impairs insulin action (no more energy storage!)
  • Strength Training improves posture… Musculoskeletal collapse is a major reason why people feel sore and unwell. The skeletal system must be properly aligned to allow the correct length-tension relationships of muscles. Joints that rest in poor alignment will contribute to movements performed with poor alignment leading to micro then macro trauma. Improved posture also affects the nervous system and therefore reaction times.
  • Benefits of Stretching : Increased mobility reduces risk of injury, increases joint range of movement which also helps with strength training, and stretching also helps with relaxation.
  • 10 minutes of relaxation through Classical Music, Meditation or deep breathing is excellent for decreasing Cortisol. Every 90 minutes you should have 10 minutes of relaxation.

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