Ten benefits of lifting weights

Francisca Moniz of Integral Fitness - The Benefits of Lifting Weights

Our latest blog post is by Francisca Moniz of Integral Fitness and Leisure, one of the town’s gyms (they’re in both Drogheda and Bettystown) that strives to achieve the highest standards in leisure facilities. Their motto is “Fitness and fun for all the family “ – they ensure a warm welcome for all ages.

Lifting weights is more than just hauling iron, and the benefits of strength training are big – really big. The bad news is that you have to do it to reap the rewards. Lifting weights will require you to put in some effort, but once you get going and see some results, you will love it. Trust me. The benefits of strength training are so vast that no one should go a week without some intense training. Here are just 10 of them…

1. Physical performance
If you are just starting out, consider yourself lucky. You’ll see tremendous changes physically by almost doing nothing. The first 8 weeks of muscle gains are thanks to your central nervous system. The output from your nerve fibers and brain gets ramped up. This will give you fast gains in strength and performance even with a mediocre diet and exercise program.  After around 10-12 weeks you will start building real muscle. This is where the game really begins.

2. Metabolic efficiency
Adding muscle mass with intense training will benefit you in many ways. Not only will you get stronger, but you will also be able to burn off more calories and fat.  The food you eat won’t all go straight into your butt or gut, which is one of the nicer benefits of strength training. Instead, you will have efficient muscle fibers that consume those fats and carbs.

3. Decreased risk of injury
Balanced strength in musculature around the major joints will help your stability. Injuries happen when we overstep our capabilities and the joints and connective tissues pay the price. When you go to the gym, you get bigger muscles, plus your ligaments and connective tissue grow stronger; these are the little strings and sheaths of cartilage and tendons that hold your body together. Have you ever sprained an ankle? This is a tendon being damaged and perhaps even the cartilage coating the bones in the ankle joint.

4. Increase in energy
By adapting to a higher demand, most ordinary things in everyday life will seem like a piece of cake. If in the past you were tired after a long day’s work, a few months down the road with proper strength training and diet, that day will seem like child’s play. You are literally building up a reserve of, dare I say, life force. You can handle more. So no matter what life throws your way, you are better equipped to deal with it. Trust the force and go to the gym.

5. Stronger bones
Weight training has been used for strengthening bones and joints in the care for the elderly. Most importantly, they can get up from a chair easier. Not only that, resistance training like lifting weights strengthens the bones themselves. You see, we adapt to any stress upon us by growing stronger for just that task.

6. Decreases resting blood pressure
Strength training is one of the best drug-free treatments for high blood pressure. It makes your heart stronger, and a stronger heart can pump more blood with less effort. If your heart can work less, the force on your arteries decreases, lowering your blood pressure. It’s not about the biceps or abs it’s about your whole body.

7. Decreases the risk of diabetes
Exercise makes your muscles better able to grab sugars directly from your blood stream. This is good because it means you don’t get fat as fast. Today there’s a big increase in all kinds of diseases, but particularly type 2 diabetes, which is an inability to clear the food from the bloodstream. It’s all because of too much sugar and bad food. Just half an hour of medium intensity exercise daily makes your muscles super absorbent to nutrients. One to two hours after exercise is the perfect time to eat a meal; it will go to good use straight away.  Without it, your body has to struggle to actively clear what you just ate.

8. Elevates mood
Stress is one of the biggest killers today. It actually disrupts the way your body is supposed to function. There is an easy solution – when you lift weights your body releases natural painkillers, opiates. These are the most powerful anti-stress messengers that exist in your body. Gone will be all the worries and irritations of the day. You can just be with yourself and enjoy the fact you are doing something beneficial for your body.  This combined with the next point has a profound impact on your life and how much enjoyment you get out of it. After a hard day’s work, there is nothing like a lifting session to wipe it all away.

9. Improves immune system
Your body’s immune system becomes more effective when you exercise. You get a boost in the production of macrophages, the cells that attack bacteria, so any infection will be healed faster. This benefit is not just temporary – consistent exercise leads to substantial improvements in your immune system over the long-term. Be aware that over-training will do the opposite… reduce your immune response and make you more susceptible to illness.

10. The mirror effect, a benefit you can see
This may not be one of the scientifically proven benefits of strength training, but it damn sure is one of the most enticing ones.When you look good, how much better will it make you feel? Just the boost in confidence can make a huge difference.

Convinced Yet?
Sometimes just the facts won’t convince you, but what will convince you is when you start experiencing the results for yourself. Keep at it for a few months and watch your mood and health skyrocket, your muscles grow, and your sleep get deeper. If you’re still confused about how to get started, don’t worry – visit Integral Fitness Drogheda or Bettystown and talk to me or one of my colleagues and you will find everything you need to build muscle the smart way.