It’s no secret that exercise does wonders for your health and happiness—regular fitness has been linked with boosting energy, relieving stress, helping with everyday tasks and so much more. For definitive proof, look no further than the mounting scientific research, which has been adding authority to the already-long list of exercise benefits.
When you think of exercise, though, do you typically think of runners and cyclists? If so you’re not alone, but you should know that the vast benefits that come with aerobic exercise extend to anaerobic exercise (like weight lifting). Take a look at our list and then start training to reap the rewards.
You probably know that a regular weight lifting regimen will increase muscle mass, but did you know it could also help you lose weight? Muscle is much more metabolically active than fat, which means it’s more efficient at burning calories. In fact, a recent study found that lifting weights was especially helpful in burning troublesome belly fat. The takeaway: start lifting weights, it can help you slim down.
Researchers at Tufts University—and many others—report that weight lifting could help prevent and reverse muscle and bone loss. Weight bearing exercise, especially slow and controlled moves like squats and lunges with weight, stress the bones and muscles in a way that promotes fortification and growth. This information is especially important for elderly people, but certainly should not be overlooked by those at any age.
Just about all forms of exercise will give you a better shot at a longer (and healthier) life, but it seems that lifting weights, in particular, is a makeshift fountain of youth. Researchers from UCLA found a correlation between muscle mass and longer life. Essentially, the study found that the more muscle mass you have, the less likely you are to die prematurely.
Thanks to research, we know that aerobic exercise can help alleviate symptoms of depression and in many cases it can be just as effective as anti-depressants. As it turns out, research suggests that those benefits can also be achieved through anaerobic exercise, like weight lifting.
Any physical activity you do can be done better with the help of weight lifting. Cross-training is vital for all athletes and lifting is a perfect example. Lifting helps strengthen key muscle groups that you use frequently, while improving strengths in other muscles that you don’t use as much (which can help prevent injury).
Nothing creates camaraderie quite like getting to the gym each day before the sun rises. Even if you don’t go in the morning, though, getting to the gym regularly will help connect you with the community and having some fit friends can bring big benefits. After a while, you might need a spotter or a few tips and with at least one common interest, it won’t be tough to make a few new friends.
Recommended by the American Heart Association, lifting weights has been shown to lower bad cholesterol levels, raise good cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure. One study in particular suggests that exercise might even be more effective than blood pressure medication and the results are said to last for a while after you put the weights down, if strength training is done regularly.
It’s safe to say we would all like to be a little shaper mentally and research shows strength training could help. According to a study out of British Colombia, older women who lifted weights or used strength training machines for an hour or two each week reaped the mental benefits. The weight lifting women improved their “ability to make decisions, resolve conflicts and focus,” wrote the New York Times.
When it comes to body image, it seems that the main focus is on size, when it should be on ability and strength. Even if you don’t see benefits of strength training in the mirror right away, weight lifting helps improve body image by showing us how strong we really are—regardless of what the scale says.