Benefit Eight: Increase Gastrointestinal Transit Time
A study by Koffler (1992) showed a 56 percent increase in gastrointestinal transit time after 3 months of strength training. This is a significant finding due to the fact that delayed gastrointestinal transit time is related to a higher risk of colon cancer.
Benefit Nine: Reduce Resting Blood Pressure
Strength training alone has been shown to significantly reduce resting blood pressure (Harris and Holly 1987). Another study (Westcott 1995) has revealed that strength plus aerobic exercise is also effective for improving blood pressure readings. After 2 months of combined exercise, the program participants dropped their systolic blood pressure by 5 mm Hg and their diastolic blood pressure by 3 mm Hg.
Benefit Ten: Improved Blood Lipid Levels
Although the effects of strength training on blood lipid levels needs further research, at least 2 studies (Stone et al. 1982, Hurley et al. 1988) have revealed improved blood lipid profiles after several weeks of strength exercise. It is important to note that improvements in blood lipid levels are similar for both endurance and strength exercise (Hurley 1994).
Benefit Eleven: Reduce Low Back Pain
Several years of research on strength training and back pain conducted at the University of Florida Medical School has shown that strong low-back muscles are less likely to be injured low-back muscles. A recent study by Risch (1993) found that low-back patients had significantly less back pain after 10 weeks of specific (full-range) strength exercise for the lumbar spine muscles. Because 80 percent of all Americans experience low back problems, it is advisable for all adults to properly strengthen their low back muscles
Benefit Twelve: Reduce Arthritic Pain
According to a recent edition of the Tufts University Diet and Nutrition Letter (1994), sensible strength training eases the pain of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. This is good news, because most men and women who suffer from arthritis pain need strength exercise to develop stronger muscles, bones, and connective tissue.
There are 12 physiological reasons to perform regular strength exercise. On a more basic level, it is important to understand that proper strength training may help us to look better, feel better, and function better. Remember that our skeletal muscles serve as the engine, chassis, and shock absorbers of our bodies. Consequently, strength training is an effective means for increasing our physical capacity, improving our athletic performance, reducing our injury risk, enhancing our personal appearance, and improving our selfconfidence. Everyone can benefit from a sensible program of strength exercise.
Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D., is Fitness Research Director at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, MA.
Campbell, W., Crim, M., Young, V. and Evans, W. (1994). Increased energy requirements and changes in body composition with resistance training in older adults. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 60: 167-175.
Evans, W. and Rosenberg, I. (1992). Biomarkers. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Forbes, G. B. (1976). "The adult decline in lean body mass," Human Biology, 48: 161-73.