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12 Reasons to Add Weight to Your Daily Dozen

Love aerobic exercise but loathe lifting weights? By being a lightweight you could be losing muscle and bone and lowering your metabolism rate.Below we provide a dozen reasons why regular strength training should be an integral part of your workout regimen.

12) Lift Weight to Lose Weight. Believe it or not, resistance work beats cardio in terms of overall calorie expenditure. Why? Because even though weight training burns 8 to 10 calories per minute vs. cardio’s 10 to 12, you continue to burn an additional 25% of the previous weight lifting session’s total well after you’ve tossed in the towel.

11) Maintain Muscle & Bone. Even if weight loss is not your goal, strength training is essential to preserve bone strength and muscle mass as we age. Women who skip weight lifting entirely will lose five pounds of muscle mass per decade — even if they regularly do cardio!

10) Lift Your Libido. It worked for one-third of peri- and newly-menopausal women participating in a two-month strength training study. Not only did 33% report increased sex drive, 40% felt less anxious and a full 50% felt less irritable.

9) Build Lower Back Strength. In one study by the University of Florida, 80% of subjects participating in a weight lifting program experienced less lower back pain than before the training began.

8 ) Turn Tables on Time. As you age, decreasing muscle mass lowers your resting metabolic rate. You can counter this trend with training: For every three pounds of muscle gained you raise your resting metabolic rate by 120 calories a day.

7) Better Your Balance. Strength training helps restore your balance, which, together with flexibility, can help you avoid those slips and falls that lead to injury as we age.

6) Beat the Blues. After a 12-week program of strength training, nearly 90% of seriously depressed seniors in one Harvard study no longer met the criterion for clinical depression.

5) Arthritis Relief. In one Tufts University study, pumping iron was found just as — if not more — effective than popping pills when it came to alleviating arthritis pain.

4) Fifty Reps for Forty Winks. Hit the weights before hitting the hay and you’ll fall asleep more quickly, sleep more deeply and wake less often. As with other benefits, you’ll get as good, if not better, results without the side effects of medications.

3) Faster Gut Reaction. One three-month trial found strength training increased gastrointestinal speed by 56%, improving regularity and decreasing colon cancer risk.

2) Regulate Blood Pressure. Researchers at the University of Maryland found six months of strength training helped those with high blood pressure shift back into the healthy range.

1) Protect Your Heart. Aerobic exercise is key for cardiac health, but resistance training has an important role too. Various studies have demonstrated weighty benefits to lifting — like lower levels of cholesterol as well as homocysteine, which in excess can lead to artery blockage.With a dozen reasons to reap the rewards of resistance training, only a real dumbbell would fail to make weights a regular part of their routine. Be forewarned, however: Strength training may exacerbate symptoms of congenital vanity.

With seriously cut biceps, chiseled back muscles, sculpted pectorals and six-pack abs, the one thing you won’t be able to resist is showing off the new buff you.

Published September 27, 2004

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