If you think strength training is just for body builders, think again. It can be an essential part of your health. (Image by Shutterstock)
Ayesha Qureshi
Ayesha Qureshi, MPH

If you think strength training is just for body builders, think again. It can be an essential part of your health.

Strength training, also known as “resistance training” or “weight training,” is when the muscles are exercised against an opposing force to make them stronger. Examples of some opposing forces might include dumbbells, resistance bands, weight machines, or your own body weight.

Adding strength training as a regular part of your physical activity can have many benefits, including:

1. Decrease in Body Fat

We start to lose muscle mass in our 30s — a condition known as age-related sarcopenia — and those who are not active can lose about 3 percent to 5 percent per decade. Regular strength training reverses this loss and can also help decrease body fat.

2. Makes your Metabolism Faster

When we are at rest, we burn calories, even while we are sleeping. Having more toned muscles will increase your metabolic rate because your body needs to use more calories to maintain muscle, as compared to the amount it needs to maintain fat. This will boost your metabolism.

3. Builds Bone Density

Strength training is a type of weight-bearing exercise that helps increase bone density. The more bone density you have, the less likely your risk to develop osteoporosis.

4. Prevents Injury

Strength training not only strengthens muscle it also strengthens your tendons and connective tissues, this decrease chances of injury and muscle strain.

If you’ve never strength trained, or if it’s been a while, no need to worry; it is never too late start. Below are a few resources to help you do so:

• Here are great tips on getting started from WebMD.

The Mayo Clinic provides these good videos on beginner moves.

• And don’t forget to stretch after your routine.

Strength training may seem challenging at first, but don’t give up. The more you do it, the stronger you will become and the more benefits you will reap.

This article was made possible with support from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, which has sponsored Qcitymetro’s Health Page since 2010.

Ayesha Qureshi is a certified health and wellness coach and has a background in health behavior and health education.