During the past few years more and more studies have shown that sensible strength training produces many health and fitness benefits. Key researchers, such as Dr. William Evans and Dr. Ben Hurley, have provided a wealth of data on the positive physiological responses to basic programs of strength exercise. Based on presently available research, consider the following 12 reasons why every adult should perform regular strength exercise.
Benefit One: Avoid Muscle Loss
Adults who do not strength train lose between 5-7 pounds of muscle every decade (Forbes 1976, Evans and Rosenberg 1992). Although endurance exercise improves our cardiovascular fitness, it does not prevent the loss of muscle tissue. Only strength exercise maintains our muscle mass and strength throughout our mid-life years.
Benefit Two: Avoid Metabolic Rate Reduction
Because muscle is very active tissue, muscle loss is accompanied by a reduction in our resting metabolism. Information from Keyes et al. (1973) and Evans and Rosenberg (1992) indicates that the average adult experiences a 2-5 percent reduction in metabolic rate every decade of life. Because regular strength exercise prevents muscle loss it also prevents the accompanying decrease in resting metabolic rate.
Benefit Three: Increase Muscle Mass
Because most adults do not perform strength exercise, they need to first replace the muscle tissue that has been lost through inactivity. Fortunately, research (Westcott 1995) shows that a standard strength training program can increase muscle mass by about 3 pounds over an Week training period. This is the typical training response for men and women who do 25 minutes of strength exercise, 3 days per week, and represents an excellent return on a time-efflcient investment.
Benefit Four: Increased Metabolic Rate
Research reveals that adding 3 pounds of muscle increases our resting metabolic rate by 7 percent, and our daily calorie requirements by 15 percent (Campbell et al. 1994). At rest, a pound of muscle requires about 35 calories per day for tissue maintenance, and during exercise muscle energy utilization increases dramatically. Adults who replace muscle through sensible strength exercise use more calories all day long, thereby reducing the likelihood of fat accumulation.
Benefit Five: Reduce Body Fat
Campbell and his co-workers (1994) found that strength exercise produced 4 pounds of fat loss after 3 months of training, even though the subjects were eating 15 percent more calories per day. That is, a basic strength training program resulted in 3 pounds more lean weight, 4 pounds less fat weight, and 370 more calories per day food intake.
Benefit Six: Increase Bone Mineral Density
The effects of progressive resistance exercise are similar for muscle tissue and bone tissue. The same training stimulus that increases muscle myoproteins also increases bone osteoproteins and mineral content. Menkes (1993) has demonstrated significant increases in the bone mineral density of the upper femur after 4 months of strength exercise.
Benefit Seven: Improve Glucose Metabolism
Hurley (1994) has reported a 23 percent increase in glucose uptake after 4 months of strength training. Because poor glucose metabolism is associated with adult onset diabetes, improved glucose metabolism is an important benefit of regular strength exercise.