It doesn’t exactly take an Einstein to figure out how great regular exercise is for your overall health – it’s been linked to many positive benefits: including stress relief, boosting energy levels and keeping your body working efficiently so you can more easily perform day-to-day tasks – just to name a few.
And if anyone ever needed evidence for these effects, there is plenty of research that shows the many ways exercise is good for you.
But generally speaking, when people think of exercise they usually associate it with aerobic activities like running and cycling. What many don’t realize, however, is that all the same benefits you get from aerobic exercise can be attained through anaerobic exercise as well (like lifting weights). Here’s 10 damn good reasons why you should be weight training right now if you’re not.
1. Weight Loss
Obviously, lifting weights will inevitably increase muscle mass, but most people don’t realize how that extra muscle will actually help to lose weight. Muscle tissue is some of the greediest in the body, it’s higher metabolic activity means it consumes calories at a much greater rate than fat.
As it turns out, research has shown that weight lifting is particularly good at targeting stubborn belly fat. The moral of this story: lift weights so you can get a slimmer physique.
2. You’ll Live Longer
Pretty much any type of exercise will increase your odds of living longer (and healthier), but weight lifting specifically has a magical quality all it’s own. According to recent research, there appears to be a positive correlation between muscle mass and life expectancy. Basically, researchers found that more muscle mass leads to a decrease in the likelihood of early death.
3. Healthier Bones and Muscle
There has been a lot of research that has shown how strength training can not only prevent muscle and bone loss, but actually reverse it.
Weight-bearing exercises, particularly ones with slow, controlled moves (think weighted lunges and squats) stress bone and muscle tissues in a way that actually promotes growth and fortification. This is an important aspect that anyone can benefit from, but for older guys it’s especially important.
4. Improves Your Mood
Research has already shown how effective aerobic exercise is at helping to alleviate symptoms of depression, often being just as effective as prescription anti-depressants. But there is mounting evidence which suggests that the same benefits can be obtained through anaerobic exercise as well.
5. Enhanced Physical Performance
Pretty much any physical activity you engage in can only get better if you lift weights. Cross-training is crucial for just about any athlete, and weight lifting is ideal here since it helps in strengthening important muscle groups, simultaneously improving strength in muscles that aren’t frequently used, helping to prevent injuries.
6. You’ll Sleep Better
Everyone knows that intense exercise can help you to sleep like a rock, and studies are showing how weight lifters can enjoy the same benefits. Research volunteers who started strength training demonstrated an improved quality of sleep with minimal periods of waking during the night.
7. It Makes You Smarter
If you’re not as sharp as you once were, weightlifting could offer some help. Research has shown that strength training for just once or twice a week for a year can improve decision-making skills, the ability to resolve conflicts, and being able to focus without distraction.
8. Meet New People
Being around other like-minded people who share a desire for fitness can be great for morale and motivate you to stay on track. Meeting new friends at the gym can be very beneficial – you might need a spotter, want someone to critique your form, ask for some advice – or you may even score a date!
9. It’s Great for Your Heart
Strength training is fully endorsed by the American Heart Association, and has been shown to reduce levels of bad cholesterol, increase good cholesterol and lower blood pressure. There is evidence to suggest that regular exercise is more effective than blood pressure meds, the effects of which last well after putting the weights down.
10. You’ll Look Good
Let’s face it, we all want to look good, and weightlifting definitely contributes to this goal. It won’t happen overnight, but as you progress with strength training you’ll find a boost in confidence and a great sense of satisfaction with the gradual change to your physique.
Unlike a lot of things we do to stay fit, lifting weights is one where you can actually see the results, and one of the greatest rewards for all the hard work.