As the temps warm up, we often find ourselves drawn to more outdoor activities–which is awesome!
Whether your passion is running, rollerblading, swimming, playing a game of tennis with a friend, or hitting the water for some canoeing, these beautiful spring to summer days are the perfect time to enjoy exercising with Mother Nature. However, it is important that you continue the strength training element of your workout routine as well.
Outdoor cardio exercise is great . . . but it doesn’t replace the unique benefits of strength training.
So, while it’s totally fine to forgo the stationary bikes, treadmills, and ellipticals at the studio to get your cardiovascular sessions in outside while the weather’s warm, maintaining your strength training is a necessity.
Strength Training and Muscle Mass
The very first reason to keep up your strength training sessions a few times a week is to ensure you aren’t losing muscle tissue.
As we age, muscle mass loss is inevitable without regular strength training workouts. Muscle tissue is difficult tissue to gain back. Protecting the muscle you have already worked so hard to build is one of the most important considerations of any well-rounded fitness program.
Why is having more muscle so important?
If you lose muscle mass, your strength will decrease, meaning everyday activities–including those outdoor activities you want to take part in–will become harder and harder.
Plus, muscle plays a major role in fat burning…
While exercise burns calories, you only workout a few hours per week. To increase fat burning, you need to increase your metabolism, specifically your Resting Metabolic Rate. Those who have a higher muscle mass burn more calories even when they’re at rest.1 As a person ages, metabolism naturally slows down, leading to gradual weight gain. Muscle is a great way to counterbalance the body’s natural slowdown and the earlier a person starts, the easier it will be to maintain that muscle.
Many people complain that the reason they’re gaining weight into the 40’s and 50’s is because of a ‘slow metabolism’, but really, that slow metabolism is happening (partly) because they are losing muscle. The muscle gains you achieve with a proper strength training program can help reverse this process and actually INCREASE metabolism!
Strength Training and Bone Health
As a person grows older, bone loss is inevitable, especially for women after menopause.2 This can lead bones to break more easily, feelings of fatigue and weakness, and reduced tolerance to physical activity. Weight-bearing exercises strengthen bones, helping minimize natural bone loss and reducing the risk of injury.3
While other outdoor activities may be weight bearing and still help with bone strength and formation, no other exercise is more weight bearing than strength training.
Since you’ll be supporting more weight than just your body weight, you can really take your bone health to the next level. One study published in the journal of Medicine and Science in Sports And Exercise illustrated that strength training is superior to combat osteoporosis compared to aerobic activity only.4
This can prevent stress fractures or bone breaks down the road, both of which could become very serious if you are into your 60’s and 70’s.
Strength Training and Disease Prevention
Strength training has been shown to provide several health benefits, including a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.5 By continuing your strength training year round, you’ll continue to reap the rewards of the hard work you put in during the cold winter months.
A Tufts University study even found that participants in a strength training program could see a marked reduction in arthritis pain. In fact, the study found that the result was better than that received from medications.
Strength training can also improve a person’s mental health, reducing depression and improving sleep quality.
Strength Training and Insulin Sensitivity
Finally, another noteworthy benefit of strength training is its impact on insulin sensitivity.
Your insulin sensitivity level is one of the key factors determining your risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome, a condition that’s impacting more and more people.
A regular strength training workout routine will help to keep your tissue cells more responsive to insulin, so should you consume carbohydrates in your diet, your body will better use those carbohydrates, directing them towards the muscle cells rather than the body fat cells, as was noted in a study published in the Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise Journal.6 It appears the primary reason this occurs is because of the increased lean muscle tissue development, which then increases the insulin sensitivity level.
Just another way strength training helps keep you leaner – since you’ll have a reduced rate of converting and storing those carbohydrates as body fat.
If you can’t tell, we are big fans of strength training. At Empower we believe weight lifting is the one of the most effective form of exercise for guaranteeing good health into the future and keeping you leading the active lifestyle for years to come.
All it takes is 2-3 sessions per week to see all these benefits, which leaves plenty of time to get outside and do all the other spring and summer activities you enjoy.
So . . . if you are strength training 2–3 times a week, keep it up! If not, let’s see if we can schedule an extra session or two.
Who else in your life needs to hear this message? Who do you know who could benefit from a consistent strength training program throughout the year?
Our expert team is here and ready to Empower more people to live stronger, healthier, happier lives. Simply send them this link–and we can help them get started:
- “Weight Loss.” Metabolism and Weight Loss: How You Burn Calories. N.p., 6 Oct. 2011. Web. 06 May 2014.
- “Aging Changes in the Bones – Muscles – Joints: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” U.S National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 3 Sept. 2012. Web. 09 May 2014.
- “Build Up Your Bones! | NIH MedlinePlus the Magazine.” U.S National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Winter 2012. Web. 09 May 2014.
- Layne, JE. & Nelson, ME. (1999). The effects of progressive resistance training on bone density: A review. Medicine and Science in Sports And Exercise. 31(1):25-30.
- “Why Strength Training?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 24 Feb. 2011. Web. 09 May 2014.
- Ivy, JL. & Sherman, W.M. & Miller, W.J. (1984). Effect of strength training on glucose tolerance and post-glucose insulin response. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 16(6):539-543.