Pumping Iron

The benefits of weight training are for everyone

by Lindsay Ulrich

*As with any new fitness regime, consult your doctor before starting.

When you hear “pumping iron” you might think Schwarzenegger-sized efforts, but weightlifting is an activity that anybody at any stage of fitness can participate in, and it’s a great way to improve your overall health. Here are some of the overall benefits to beginning a weight-training regime:

Injury Prevention

Many injuries are the result of weak muscles that aren’t able to properly support your body under strain. But by increasing your range of motions and weight tolerance, you will build up your tolerance for certain movements under weight, and will be less likely to get injured under unexpected strain.

Increased Bone Density

As we age, declining bone density becomes a concerning risk for our overall health. Post-menopausal women especially are at risk since they experience lowered estrogen which increases the possibility of osteoporosis. Since our osteoblasts (the bone cells that stimulate new bone growth) respond to bone stress, weight lifting is excellent for increasing bone density.

Endurance and Balance

Especially important for older adults, weight lifting improves co-ordination, increases muscle size, and strengthens joints which means better endurance for not only sports and strenuous physical activity, but also everyday activities.

Weight Loss and Management

Because muscle burns more calories than fat both at rest and while in action, weight training increases your metabolic rate, meaning you will end up burning more calories while you work out, and while you lounge. This is great for people who want to manage their current weight, but also a great additional boost for people who are trying to lose weight but are only focusing on calorie reduction and cardio.

Improved Sleep Patterns and Reduced Stress

Your mind will thank you! Like other forms of exercise, weight training helps to release positive feeling chemicals like endorphins and also reduces stress promoters, like cortisol. There are also studies that have linked physical activity with better capability to deal with stress, suggesting that the more iron we pump, the more our stress tolerance rises.

Remember, there are good and bad techniques when it comes to weight lifting, so if you’re just starting out it’s a good idea to consult a personal trainer or join a gym to get started out to reduce your chance of injury. You’ll want to try out a mixture of free and machine weights at first to see which you prefer.

Before you start strength training, consider how you’ll make it part of your daily routine. You’ll probably have to re-structure parts of your week to make room for scheduled training. If you do this, weight lifting will become an ingrained part of your lifestyle, and you’re more likely to stick with it.

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