There are many health benefits with weight lifting, but probably the benefit that comes to mind the most is the benefit of increasing muscle mass. However, weight lifting has many other surprising health benefits that go beyond increasing muscle mass.
Weight lifting does not have to mean heavy, bulky lifting. Weight lifting can be done at a gym or there are many home exercises you can do with your own body weight to get beneficial effects.
#1 – Bone building
Weight lifting stresses the muscle fibers, and they get broken down to be rebuilt stronger. Weight lifting has a similar effect on the bones because during weight lifting muscles pull on the bones. This stimulates bone growth and improving bone strength.
People at risk for low bone density or who have osteoporosis can benefit from incorporating weight lifting into their lifestyle. Besides actually lifting weights, weight bearing exercise can also have beneficial effect on bones. Weight bearing exercises include aerobic exercise where your body is supporting your weight like walking, running or dancing.
#2 – Lower risk for injury
A benefit to having stronger muscles can mean you may have a lower risk for injury. Of course some would point out lifting weights could also increase your risk for injury, but if you use proper technique, balance lifts for all muscles and lift the appropriate weight it could help lower risk for injury.
Another principle is lifting weights that use pushing and pulling equally. Weight lifting can help train underutilized muscles and help muscle imbalances. Talk with an exercise physiologist or health professional for more guidance or for an individualized weight lifting plan.
#3 – Heart health
Aerobic exercise is more known for heart health benefits compared to weight lifting. However, some research also suggests weight lifting can be beneficial for heart health. Moderate intensity lifting could be beneficial for heart health and can help lower blood pressure.
In fact, a 2012 study found that weight lifting helped lower blood pressure in people who had stage 1 hypertension over 12 weeks. As with any exercise protocol, speak with your doctor before changing your exercise regimen if you have any cardiovascular risk factors.
#4 – Slimming instead of bulking
A common concern, especially for women, is that they do not want to bulk up from lifting weights. However, this concern is not a valid one. Of course you can bulk up from weight lifting, but this would be very vigorous and intense lifting.
Weight lifting can actually help you stay trim because weight lifting promotes muscle growth and inhibits fat storage. Weight lifting can help keep your waist line trim and may help tone up arms and legs. Don’t be afraid to start weight lifting for fear of bulking up- it can help you stay trim!
#5 – Increase mental strength
A general weight lifting program for overall health means you will be lifting weight for each exercise about 8-12 repetitions for 2-3 sets. This should be relatively hard for each set, but you should feel like you could life a more repetitions if you had to.
Some exercises will naturally be harder than others, and it may be more of a struggle to get through some sets. This challenge from weight lifting can help you get used to pushing through pain and discomfort. Whether you realize it or not, this habit of weight lifting can help increase your mental toughness for pushing though discomfort in other areas of your life.
#6 – Boost metabolism
Weight lifting may not be as high of a calorie burn as cardiovascular exercise, but weight lifting offers another important benefit. Weight lifting can help boost your metabolism for hours after exercise. Cardiovascular exercise can also boost metabolism, especially high intensity intervals, but weight lifting often gets over looked for this metabolism boost.
#7 – Lower risk for type 2 diabetes
Cardiovascular exercise is beneficial for lowering risk for type 2 diabetes, and some research also supports that weight lifting can be beneficial for lowering type 2 diabetes risk as well.
Weight lifting increases a certain type of muscle which can be called white muscle cells. These white muscle cells use a higher amount of glucose for energy which can translate into lowered blood sugar and risk for type 2 diabetes.
There are many health benefits of weight lifting, and researchers are constantly finding surprising ways weight lifting can positively affect the body. Weight lifting can boost metabolism, which is beneficial for weight loss and maintenance, and lower risk for high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
Weight lifting can boost metabolic rate even hours after exercise and of course is beneficial for increasing muscle mass. A common misconception for weight lifting among women is that weight lifting will make them bulk up. In fact, weight lifting can help keep you slim and lower fat mass.
References used in this article