muscle-canstockphoto7488714Want to be stronger, leaner, sexier? How about better looking? More confident and less stressed out? How’d you like to live longer too? You can, and it doesn’t have to cost a penny. How? Lift weights.

image: canstockphoto

Starting in your 30s, your body starts to lose muscle mass. This process – medically known as sarcopenia – continues as you get older: live to age 70 and you’ll have lost around 25% of your strength. If you’re lucky enough to hang on until 90, you’ll have lost nearly half.

That’s where the weights come in. Regular resistance training, whether with machines, dumbbells, bands or bodyweight, can prevent and even reverse sarcopenia by increasing the demands on your musculoskeletal system. Your body adapts by becoming stronger. As your strength increases you’ll need to periodically up the resistance, do more repetitions or sets, or work out more often. This will keep your workout interesting and help you avoid plateauing.

Whether you’re already doing resistance training, or you’re pondering whether to take the plunge, here are 6 surprising ways lifting weights will improve your life.

1. You’ll feel better

Resistance training releases endorphins – those awesome feel-good hormones – into your system. After a weight lifting session you’ll have more energy to tackle the challenges of the day. Your appetite will decrease thanks to a boost in your Peptide YY – an appetite-controlling hormone. You’ll probably sleep better, continuing the positive energy cycle into the following day. Strength training has also shown promising results in treating clinical depression.

image: canstockphoto

2. You’ll look better

If you want to look your very best (and who doesn’t?) forget getting skinny. Get toned instead. Strong, firm muscles define the body and add attractive curves. They allow you to effortlessly maintain an upright posture, giving you an aura of confident power. Visible muscle tone is especially striking on women of all ages: the best accessory for that little black dress? A set of toned biceps a la Michelle Obama or Robin Wright.
Muscle is also more metabolically active than fat, meaning it burns more calories. More muscle equals a higher metabolic rate: you burn more calories even when at rest, and have more success maintaining a healthy body weight.

older-woman-canstockphoto166228103. You’ll delay or avoid frailty

When sarcopenia sets in, your mobility, strength, balance and metabolism can all be affected. For many older people this gradual loss of muscle leads to falls, loss of independence and even death. Regular resistance training gives you the endurance and strength to make daily tasks like carrying your groceries, climbing stairs or picking up a child easier to do safely. A stronger body means a longer, more independent life.

4. You’ll be better equipped to manage your stress

Gym buffs know that a great workout can be amazingly cathartic. When you’re stressed and frustrated you can channel all of that energy into a few sets of chest presses or squats and feel it simply melt away when you rest and recover. But there’s more to it than that: some studies have shown that regular resistance training can help to reduce anxiety and mood swings.
 

older-canstockphoto92753725. You’ll increase your libido

Weight training is sexy. Not just because it makes you look great, but because it increases your testosterone, endorphins and adrenaline, all of which affect your sex drive. Your increased muscular endurance and strength won’t hurt your performance, either.

6. You’ll be likely to live longer

Among Canadians 65 and over, falls are the leading cause of injury. 95% of all hip fractures are caused by falls, and 20% of hip fractures lead to death. Bone, like muscle, is living tissue that becomes stronger when stressed. Strong muscles attach to strong bones, creating resistance to fracture.

 If you’re new to resistance or strength training, I strongly recommend hiring a trainer to learn to do it correctly: those YouTube videos can’t give you feedback, and those fit looking people in the gym you’re copying might be doing it all wrong.
So don’t wait: if you haven’t already, start now!
6 Surprising Ways Lifting Weights Will Improve Your Life Whether you're already doing resistance training, or you're pondering whether to take the plunge" >