By Gabe Sanders PhD, NSCA-CSCS
As you start your new exercise regimen, try to avoid the overemphasized notion that aerobic exercise is the primary key to losing weight and changing your body.
Yes, aerobic exercise is good for your body and your heart, but it is not a magical form of exercise that will lead to abs of steel and less body fat.
Strength Training results in lean healthy muscle mass
I’m sure you understand that weight loss is a three-pronged approach which includes diet, exercise and physical activity. However, the strength training portion of your exercise regimen is critical and here’s why!
Simply put, strength training results in lean, healthy muscle mass. Also, when you are trying to lose weight, strength training helps you maintain your muscle mass so your body can shed the fat.
On a microscopic level, strength training does wonders for your muscle cells and the way that they function on a neurological level.
For example, enhancing muscle strength improves the mechanical and neural contractile properties of your muscle and these changes have a lasting effect. The positive neural activity has a profound effect on your entire body.
Strength training one side of your body will improve the neural activity to the other side of the body. The positive physiological and neural alterations that result from strength training have an overpowering effect on other systems in your body, like sleep.
Strength Training improves sleep
One of the most beneficial, but undervalued aspects of strength training is its effect on sleep. There is a large amount of research to highlight the beneficial effect of resistance training on sleep in older adults, depressed and anxious individuals and many other populations.
On a nightly basis, sleep is vital for returning our bodies to normal. As you improve your sleep, you also improve your body’s ability to recover and build muscle, and the cycle repeats itself. Strength training improves sleep, which improves muscle health.
In closing, add strength training to your exercise regimen. It is vital to your health!
Houston, M. E., et al. “Muscle performance, morphology and metabolic capacity during strength training and detraining: a one leg model.” European journal of applied physiology and occupational physiology 51.1 (1983): 25-35.
Komi, P. V. “Training of muscle strength and power: interaction of neuromotoric, hypertrophic, and mechanical factors.” International Journal of Sports Medicine 7.S 1 (1986): S10-S15.
Seguin, Rebecca, and Miriam E. Nelson. “The benefits of strength training for older adults.” American journal of preventive medicine 25.3 (2003): 141-149.
Ferris, Lee T., et al. “Resistance training improves sleep quality in older adults a pilot study.” Journal of sports science & medicine 4.3 (2005): 354.
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