5 min read
The benefits of resistance training go beyond just bigger muscles and being stronger; all that grunting in the gym isn’t just for superficial reasons – tell that to a hater if you’re guilty of grunting. Some of the attainable benefits of resistance training are even necessary to improve your quality of life and future-proof yourself if you’re lucky enough to see a ripe old age. With that said, take a look at the listed five, some may even surprise you.
1. Improved Basal Metabolic Rate
Put simply, the basal metabolic rate, commonly referred to as BMR (and also RMR, resting metabolic rate – BMR and RMR are used interchangeably but they do very slightly differ), is the number of calories your body consumes while at rest to maintain everyday bodily functions, and it’s measured within a 24-hour period. Put a little more scientifically, BMR is the amount of energy the body expands while at rest to maintain vital functions such as breathing, organ function, and maintaining body temperature.
Humans require energy (calories) to function (hence the importance of eating), and in our day-to-day functions, our bodies use up energy when: performing activities, digesting and processing food, physically growing, and just existing. Among these, we use up the most energy from just existing and staying alive (at least two-thirds of our daily calories are used on this), not from performing activities.
An improved (higher) BMR equates to burning through more calories while doing nothing than a lower BMR. Doesn’t that sound great? And there are a number of ways to kickstart your metabolism, but in this instance, we’re specifically focused on improving it through strength training.
How resistance training helps is in the development of lean muscles; muscles require the consumption of more energy to be maintained – that’s why when you don’t eat correctly or when you haven’t exercised in a long time, your muscles will go away. Therefore, by having more muscle on your frame, your body naturally increases its BMR to nurture those muscles. This is why leaner, more physically active people can get away with sloppier diets than others who aren’t as active or as muscularly lean; their metabolism is processing things at a different, more efficient rate.
2. Improved Resting Heart Rate
Your resting heart rate, or RHR, provides a window to your overall health and clues to the likelihood of you experiencing future health problems, heart complications, and possible heart failures. The average RHR is typically between 60 to 100, where lower than 60 indicates a healthier, more athletic person, and further above 100 possibly implies an unhealthier and at-risk individual.
Resistance training helps your RHR by lowering it and this is achieved by your body experiencing better circulation across its bloodstream. Once again, lean muscles come to the rescue as they require more oxygen when put into use and the heart is what pumps the oxygen. Alongside this, more lean muscle means less fat tissues which are notorious culprits when it comes to blocked arteries and heart complications.
One’s resting heart rate can be calculated in a number of ways, but the simplest method is to count the number of heartbeats you experience per minute by checking your pulse. Count the number of beats up to 15 seconds and multiply that number by 4, or count up to 20 seconds and multiply by 3, or count up to 30 seconds and multiply the number of beats by 2. Essentially, you want to know how many beats you achieved in 60 seconds.
3. Increased Bone Mineral Density
Bone density refers to the number of bone minerals found in bone tissues, where the more minerals contained in your bones, the healthier they are. There are two ways to keep your bones healthy: nutrition and lifestyle. Nutrition involves eating the right foods and potentially minimizing detrimental foods, whereas lifestyle is what you do day-to-day. Naturally, strength training falls under lifestyle.
Strength training improves bone density by putting stress on the bones. The good thing about this is that lifting weights isn’t the only way of putting “good” stress on your bones; any activity that is weight-bearing will suffice, this means that even low-impact exercises like walking are good enough to improve bone density.
4. Reduced Age-related Muscle Atrophy
An unfortunate reality of life is that muscles begin to shrink once we hit our 30s; depending on how active or sedentary your life is, the percentage of muscle loss may vary but in general, we lose about 10% every decade. This happens because as we age, our testosterone levels begin to drop, and testosterone is the main contributor to muscle; therefore, the less testosterone you have, the less muscle you can pack on.
However, there are two ways to counteract this natural degradation; one way defies nature and allows you to retain and grow more muscle, whereas the other (natural) way, only allows you to decrease the rate at which you lose muscle.
What are the ways I’m talking about? The first way involves ingesting or injecting performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), which introduce external/foreign stimulants into the body to continue developing muscles, whereas the other way is to regularly strength train and stimulate muscle growth so that you hang on to a little more muscle with each decade than you would if you didn’t strength train.
Whether you decide to use drugs or be natural, that’s your choice to make. But if you go down the path of performance enhancers, make sure you thoroughly do your research or live to regret it later.
5. Decreases the Risk of Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is the medical condition of having weak or brittle bones from tissue loss and relates to low bone mineral density.
Alongside our muscles shrinking and weakening with age, so do the bones – it’s natural. However, our bones weakening with age should not impede our lifestyles. With osteoporosis, lifestyles do get impeded, and it’s exacerbated by some people naturally having weaker bones or having lived lifestyles that have made them susceptible to weak bones, therefore their bones further weakening with age may negatively impact their quality of life.
Aside from having a diet that is rich in calcium, vitamin D, and other minerals, once again, like age-related muscle atrophy, resistance training can help. Where resistance training diminishes the rate of muscle loss, with bones, it strengthens them, ensuring that a person can potentially age with strong and healthy bones.