Even the most devoted fitness fans have a tendency to overemphasize cardiovascular exercise. That practice can have adverse health effects when it excludes training for strength, according to Mike Morrison, a sports performance coach at IU Health Sport Performance. “I wish I could get everyone to look at strength training as a legitimate means of staying healthy,” says Morrison.
Whether you’re a young athlete playing basketball several nights a week or a middle-aged grandparent, strength training has carry-over benefits for daily living.
Here’s how strength training can improve your health.
- It reduces your risk of injury. Whether you play sports a lot, a little or not at all, strength training can protect you from unexpected injuries caused by overusing some muscles and underusing others. Even lifting something as light as a purse repeats load on one side of the body versus the other. “People often injure themselves when they travel by carrying a suitcase on one side,” Morrison says. “Over time, they can’t resist that extra 30 or 40 pounds on one side, and end up straining their back or something else. The better your body can resist changes or imbalances in external load, the less likely you’ll injure yourself by compensating in ways you maybe shouldn’t.”
- It can help you achieve the physique you admire. When it’s done properly, strength training helps build and retain muscle, burns more calories and offers a better chance to get a lean, athletic look, with a lower risk of injury. Muscle mass is metabolically active at rest. That means the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn throughout the day, even while watching television at night.
- It reduces the risk of osteoporosis. Applying external load to the bones through strength training helps your body retain calcium that would otherwise leach with age. “If for no other reason, that’s why every woman in her 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond should be strength training,” says Morrison.
Pain is not an indication that you shouldn’t lift. Instead, it could suggest improper form. “Working with a good trainer can help you learn good lifting technique and avoid injuries,” says Morrison. “Be sure to do your research when choosing who you take health and fitness advice from.”
If you want to improve your health and learn how to make safe strength training a part of your fitness routine, contact IU Health Sports Performance, 317-848-5867.