Most people are familiar with cardiovascular exercise such as walking, running and cycling and find these easier to implement into their day and lifestyle, however strength training is just as important, if not more important, than cardiovascular exercise.
Strength training is defined as ‘a method of improving muscular strength by gradually increasing the ability to resist force through the use of free weights, machines or the person’s body weight.’
There are many benefits of strength training, such as –
- The ability to move easily and perform daily activities effectively
- Increased bone strength and reduced risk of osteoporosis
- Reduced risk of falls
- Increased metabolism
- Assisting with the prevention or treatment of chronic health conditions such as muscular pain, arthritis, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke and mental health conditions
- Enhancing the ability to think clearly and perform better with increased focus
- May assist with reducing anxiety and depression
- Improved self-esteem and body composition
- Reduced inflammatory markers particularly in overweight individuals
- Reversal of ageing factors in mitochondria and muscle
- Decreases risk of dementia
- Overall feelings of enhanced well-being
Strength training doesn’t have to involve a gym or heavy weights, it can be as simple as using your own body weight, and typically, this is the most effective way if you are new to strength training. Examples of effective and simple strength exercise are sit to stand from a chair, wall push ups, calf raises, rows and balancing exercises. All of these can be performed in the home, workplace or in a park.
It is advisable to start out slowly and build up the amount you do over time. As the body adapts to the exercises, it is important to start adding in extra resistance and change the exercises to enhance results. Building and training muscle takes time, but the health benefits are worth the effort and perseverance.
If you are new to strength training, it is often advisable to enlist the help of a good personal trainer or exercise physiologist to ensure you have the correct exercises for your goals and to implement correct technique.