Despite being a very sporty and active person, I’m actually not a huge fan of going to the gym. I much prefer to get outdoors and go for a run, or play football, tennis and golf. However, I do force myself to go to the gym at least a couple of times a week. The reason is that there are so many health benefits from lifting weights that you probably would never have realised.
It can be quite daunting for someone whose usual gym routine involves the treadmill and a few classes. The weights are often surrounded by big bulky men and women who are lifting heavy and it can be intimidating. The reality though is that weightlifting should be part of your weekly exercise routine, and you don’t need to become a heavy lifter to reap the benefits.
Are you the kind of person who always eats that last bit of pizza? Or the one who always grabs a kebab on the way up the road from the pub? Well, if you are, then you might be interested to know that lifting weights helps to fight fat. When you lift weights, you build 'type II' muscle fibres which are proven to improve your body’s metabolism. That means you will burn off those calories faster and easier, so you can feel less guilty about your pizzas and kebabs! The research was conducted by Boston University, and it found that if you regularly lift weights you can reduce your body fat percentage without being on a strict diet. Great news for those of us who like to over indulge.
Going to the gym and lifting weights can also help with the natural complications of the ageing process. When we age, our bone density decreases and we also experience something called sarcopenia – which is muscle loss caused by ageing. If we don’t exercise and challenge those muscles, it will turn to fat instead. So, in order to keep the flabby stomach and arms at bay, get lifting!
Every time you push through and do that extra repetition, you are strengthening your mental capacity as well as the muscle groups you are working on.
It’s also believed that regular weight sessions can cut your risk of diabetes by up to 34 percent. The World Health Organisation has predicted that diabetes will be the world’s seventh largest killer by 2030! That’s quite a scary thought considering how common it seems to be. The same research also found that if you include regular cardio exercises alongside your weight sessions, you’ll cut your risk by 59 percent.
This benefit is sure to relate to many of you – weightlifting helps to prevent back pain! Do you sit in an office all day at a computer or a desk? Then you probably go home and slouch on the couch watching television after a long day at work… well if you find the time to add some weight training to your weekly routine, you can help to keep back problems at bay. Weightlifting helps to increase your core strength, which are the muscle supporting the spine. This will help with back problems and also improve your general balance too.
Finally, it can improve our mental health too. We all know that exercises like running and cycling are linked to reducing depression, but weightlifting can also improve our mental wellbeing too. As well as releasing the same endorphins as we release doing cardiovascular exercise, we also strengthen our mind by overcoming challenges and pushing through sets even though our muscles are feeling tired and sore. Every time you push through and do that extra repetition, you are strengthening your mental capacity as well as the muscle groups you are working on.
So, the next time you go to the gym, instead of just using the treadmill or cross-trainer make an effort to start lifting weights. You will reap so many health benefits by doing so. There are many places where you can train with weights and Live Active Leisure has facilities across Perthshire and provide classes and private personal training sessions to help you reach your goals too. What are you waiting for? Get lifting!
For more information on Live Active Leisure’s gyms and classes, visit their website.
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