Resistance trainings can be defined as a type of exercise that involves an external resistance causing the muscles to contract, which then leads to increased strength, endurance, muscle mass, or improve muscle tone. Resistance training exercises include squats, pullups, and pushups, resistance training band exercises, Keiser machine exercises (pneumatic resistance), sled pushing, and water training exercises. During these types of exercises, you move your body or limbs against the resistance created by gravity, resistance trainings bands (such as the hip circle band), weighted bars, dumbbells, exercise machines, or even your own body weight.
During resistance training, there is an object or position which makes a movement hard to perform. Resistance trainings tasks the muscles and tendons in a way that’s different from most exercises like jogging or cardio exercises. Resistance training pushes the muscles to their limits, thereby contributing to muscle size and strength. It also offers other health benefits apart from these, and we will explain them in this article.
Contrary to the popular belief that resistance training is majorly for muscle building, research has shown that it offers other health benefits as well. From a study conducted by Harvard researchers in 2014, it was discovered that resistance training is linked with lower abdominal fat. The researchers studied 10,500 men over 12 years and found out that resistance trainings was more effective at preventing an increase in abdominal fat. Resistance training or strength training helps the body burn excess calories and also increases lean muscle mass. This further stimulates metabolism. The higher the muscle mass, the higher the number of calories your body burns per day in order to maintain physiologic functions. A reduction in abdominal fat also leads to better cardiovascular health, due to the fact that excess fat sits around organs such as the heart. Once this is reduced through resistance training, cardiovascular health improves.
It has also been proven that resistance training helps to control blood sugar levels. Resistance training exercises increase the ability of the muscles to take and use glucose. There are transporters in muscle cells which have the job of getting glucose from the blood and distributing it to the muscles. Since strength training builds and improves the muscles, these muscle cells work more and gather more glucose from the blood, thereby reducing the blood sugar levels. This is very beneficial, especially for people with Type 2 diabetes.
There have been lots of studies that have looked at the impact of resistance training on the heart. One of these is the research conducted at Iowa State University on the impact of strength training on the heart. The team found out that resistance training for less than an hour each week can reduce your risk of suffering a cardiac arrest or stroke by 40 to up to 70%. The study examined the data gathered from 12,591 adults who have had at least two clinical exams from 1987 to 2006. The data measured three things; Cardiac arrests and stroke that did not lead to death, cardiac arrests, and stroke that led to death, and other types of conditions that resulted in death. It was discovered that constant resistance trainings reduced the risk for all three categories. Also, from the study, it was concluded that resistance training is particularly important for older adults as it improves cardiovascular health, physical function, and quality of life.
In another research published in the 2013 Journal of Applied Physiology, it was discovered that resistance training leads to better functioning HDL (good cholesterol) in young adults. Strength training also improves blood pressure and grip strength. Grip strength is an indicator of total muscle health, which can be used to predict the occurrence of heart disease.
Another health benefit you can gain from resistance training is a reduced cancer risk. Resistance training helps to reduce visceral fat, which in high quantities increases the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Visceral fat cells also produce a protein that can trigger the growth of cancerous cells.
In a study conducted on the impact of resistance training on cells, it was discovered that endurance training helps in slowing and potentially reversing cellular aging. The researchers recommended an endurance training protocol with strength training elements as they were seen to help with healthy aging. Also, resistance training helps to improve mobility and flexibility. The joints are taken through their full range of motion, and the muscles are also stretched.
Apart from physical health, resistance trainings also impacts mental health positively. Strength training has been shown to improve the symptoms of anxiety and depression. During exercise, endorphins are released, and the activities involved in resistance training also help to improve mental resilience. In conclusion, resistance training improves the overall quality of life due to the numerous physical and mental health benefits it provides.