Want faster progress towards your health and fitness goals? Try some strength training!
People often gravitate towards cardiovascular exercise when starting a new health and fitness habit. And there is nothing wrong with that. Cardio (or aerobic exercise) is a great choice and can significantly increase your fitness levels and improve your health.
Eventually though, if all you are doing is cardio, you will eventually plateau. That is, you’ll stop making progress, even if you spend more and more time doing it. Awesome that you got yourself fit enough to have that problem! But kind of a bummer if you’re not where you want to be yet.
Good news though. Many people find that when they start adding even a little bit of strength or resistance training, they kick start their progress again. Adding strength training doesn’t mean adding more time to your exercise plans either. It can be a good substitute for some of your cardio exercise, and a good strength training workout can take as little as 20 to 30 minutes once you get the hang of it.
Some of the biggest benefits of strength training include:
- Improved metabolic rate: Your metabolism determines how much energy you burn daily, in the form of calories. Muscle tissue does burn more calories than fat does, so if you have more muscle mass, your daily calorie burn will automatically be higher, so you will more easily manage your body weight and body composition.
- Improved blood sugar control: Strength training helps manage blood sugar in a couple of different ways. First, it increases the amount of muscle mass we have. As mentioned above, more muscle mass requires more energy (in this context, blood sugar or glucose) to exist. This alone can change the way your body draws glucose from the blood. Additionally, a single strength training workout will impact blood sugar levels (again, more energy is required). If you are diabetic and use insulin, it’s important to monitor your blood sugar levels before and after a workout (and even during), especially when you are new to exercise or changing your program. Bottom line, improving your body’s ability to lower blood sugar level on its own.
- Decreased joint pain/improved joint function: Your muscles play a large part in keeping your joints happy and healthy. Strong muscles that activate that the right times will help the joints stay supported and pain free. This means less back pain, knee pain, shoulder pain – you name it.
- Toning up: Most people on this site are looking for how to improve health and/or daily quality of life – looks are not our focus here, and I want to emphasize that healthy does not have a “look”! Adding strength training to your exercise program can make a huge difference to health and quality of life. It also changes your muscle tone, which can result in a change in appearance that gives you a positive mental boost. It’s the icing on the cake.
- Improved self-confidence: “Empowered” is somewhat of a buzzword, but I think it fits here. When you realize can pick up heavy things and survive, new doors open up. Personally, I’ve dealt with anxiety throughout life, and getting physically stronger, for me, made life a lot less scary.
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, and as each person is unique, you may feel the benefits of strength training in your own way. But they will be there, for sure. Carve out some time – it’s worth it!
Not sure how to get started with strength training? HealthFit Coaching has a easy, not scary, online exercise program that is individualized and tailored to suit your needs, goals, and starting points. Check it out!