Principle 4 – Lift Something…Heavy

Man or Woman, there is something to be said for strength.

Increased strength can improve your quality of life and help with doing everyday activities:

  • Improved balance
  • Decreased risk of falls
  • Ability to carry groceries
  • Getting in and out of chairs

These are some simple activities that get harder as we age.

The list of strength training benefits

As with Principle 2: Wake-up earlier and Principle 3: Meditate Daily I am going to provide you with a list of the benefits of lifting something heavy, which is relevant whether you’re a man or a woman.

I reviewed a number of articles, which I have hyper-linked and attempted to peel down the strongest commonalities between the articles.

If something was noted at least three times in the five referenced articles, I kept it here and have shown the items in descending order.

CommonalitiesEveryDay HealthQuick and Dirty TipsGlobal newsUS NewsMayo Clinic
Bone, joint, tendon and muscle healthProtects bone and muscle massProtect bones, joints and tendonsIt keeps your bones strong and healthyOsteoporosis prevention and managementDevelop strong bones
Disease managementChronic disease managementLower blood pressure

Improve liver health
It staves off disease

It regulates insulin and lowers inflammation
Controlled blood sugar levels   Reduced cancer riskManage chronic conditions
Weight managementHelps keep weight off

Translates to more calories burned
Burn more body fatIt boosts metabolism and fat lossLower abdominal fatManage your weight
Improved mental healthBoosts energy levels and improves moodImprove mental healthIt improves posture, sleep, mood and energy levelsStrengthened mental health 
Improved balance and reduced risk of injuryBetter body mechanics It improves balance and reduces the risk of fallsLowered injury risksEnhanced quality of life
Improved cardiovascular health, strength and body confidenceStronger and fitterLook toned

Improved endurance
It improves strength and enduranceBetter cardiovascular health

Elevated body image
 
Increased brain health Get smarterBoosted brain healthSharpen your thinking skills 

Bone, joint, tendon and muscle health

As we age, we begin to lose bone density.

While it is an incremental amount, it compounds each year.

It is the opposite of: [small smart decisions x consistency x time = exponential results]

This is a situation where incremental declines year-in, year-out, result in an inability to perform everyday tasks later in life.

By training with resistance, we place force on our bones, tendons and joints, which forces them to get stronger.

This is also relevant for endurance athletes at risk of degeneration from repetitive use, such as an ultramarathon runner or ironman triathlete. Through strength training, we strengthen the bones, tendons and ligaments that are used in these activities.

Anecdotally, though I am much heavier than when I was achieving my last running streak, I am finding my body is actually feeling better as I increase distances and hit the 80+ day mark. I attribute this to the stronger chain that I am creating through strength training, specifically squats and deadlifts.

Disease management

Dr. Stuart Phillips, a McMaster University professor in Kinesiology told Global News that cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and “all the classic chronic diseases” including cancer aren’t as likely with any form of activity, from strength training to cardio. They noted that increased strength led to increased resilience against disease and reduced overall risk of mortality.

For example, this study shows that resistance training can improve glycemic control in elderly patients with type 2 diabetes associated with aging.

Further, the Mayo Clinic notes that strength training can reduce the signs and symptoms of many chronic conditions, such as arthritis, back pain, obesity, heart disease, depression and diabetes.

Weight management

This is an interesting one.

Many people, and most notably women, don’t want to lift weights, because they don’t want to look bulky.

All five articles talked about weight management. Whether that was reduced body fat or increased metabolism. Effectively, by weight training you will be less bulky.

While cardiovascular exercise will burn more calories during the actual activity, weight training increases the rate at which your body burns calories when resting.

For example, Phillips notes an analogy with a thermostat: Imagine your body is a house and aerobic exercise cranks the heat for about 30 to 40 minutes while you work out. Resistance training, on the other hand, doesn’t turn the heat up as much but the burn lingers for a longer time.

Improved Mental Health

Iron Therapy.

It is real. It works.

I have talked about this before on Instagram.

Lifting weights can, in certain ways be a form of meditation.

Being too focused on the past can result in depression. Too focused on the future – anxiety.

When lifting something heavy, as with many flow state activities, you are focused on the lift. This moment. Right here. Right now.

It takes your mind off of the past. It takes you away from the future. It brings you back to the moment. This moment. That is therapeutic.

Research shows that weight training can improve treatment outcomes for depressed patients. Further, research shows that weight training at a low to moderate intensity produces the most reliable and robust decreases in anxiety. One of the reasons this occurs is that strength training will elevate your level of endorphins (natural opiates produced by the brain), which lift energy levels and improve mood.

Endorphins aside, findings from Harvard Medical School indicated the benefit strength training provides in increasing mental resiliency by allowing you to overcome obstacles in a controlled, predictable environment.

Without a doubt, I am enjoying seeing my son increase his confidence levels as he comes into the gym with me and strength trains. When he adds 2.5 lb plates to either side of the barbell, he isn’t only adding 5 lbs. He is adding confidence. He is adding self-esteem. He is realizing that he can achieve something. IT is beautiful to witness.

Remaining benefits

I encourage you to read each of the articles I linked, and more, to see how you can also:

  • Improve cardiovascular health, strength and body confidence
  • Improve balance and reduced risk of injury
  • Increase brain health

More importantly, I encourage you to lift something heavy.

No, not like this guy.  

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