The benefits of strength training

If there were a proven way to continuously burn more calories—even while you sleep—would you take advantage of it?

Well, there is and you can.

No, you're not going to swallow a pill.

But you will need to lift some weights.

Working out with weights speeds up metabolism because it adds muscle—something most adults lose as they age—to the body. And the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, no matter what you're doing.

But a revved-up metabolism is only one benefit of weight training. Here's what else to expect, says Gregory Florez, spokesman for the American Council on Exercise.

A trimmer figure. Muscle takes up less space than fat. Thus, increasing the ratio of muscle to fat in your body can help you trim unwanted inches, even if you don't lose pounds.

Stronger bones. Lifting weights strengthens bones, reducing your risk of fractures.

Better health. Weight training helps control cholesterol and blood sugar levels, protecting you from heart disease and diabetes.

Start safely

One of the most important things to remember about weightlifting is that without proper technique, you might get injured. So it's usually wise to sign up for at least one to three beginning sessions with a certified personal trainer, Florez says.

You'll also want to get an OK from your doctor if you haven't been active for the past year, have a chronic disease or are older than 40.

Your trainer should tell you to work all your major muscle groups and to aim for two to three sessions weekly, according to Florez, with at least two days off between workouts so that your muscles can recover.

Women and seniors welcome

Finally, though women often shy away from weightlifting out of fear of bulking up, they shouldn't, Florez says. They have such low levels of testosterone—a male hormone needed for significantly enlarged muscles—that any worry is unnecessary.

As for seniors, "it's never too late to turn to strength training," says Florez. "Several studies show that even those in their 70s respond within three to four weeks of starting a strength training program." In fact, because lifting weights builds strength, it's an ideal way to stay fit and able to function.

Learn more

For more information about weight training and physical fitness in general, visit one of the following websites:

reviewed 3/31/2017

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Disclaimer

This information is provided for educational purposes only. Individuals should always consult with their healthcare providers regarding medical care or treatment, as recommendations, services or resources are not a substitute for the advice or recommendation of an individual's physician or healthcare provider. Services or treatment options may not be covered under an individual's particular health plan.