Strength training has more benefits than just muscle building

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Strength training helps us gain muscle mass, which can help stave off age-related weight gain. In a recent article, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) pointed out that numerous studies have shown that strength training provides other health benefits as well. In this regard, Beijing Sport University sports body science associate Professor Su Hao gave interpretation.


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1. Prevent and improve anxiety and depression.

A Harvard University analysis of more than 1,800 people found that those with mild to moderate depression who did strength training at least twice a week had significantly less symptoms than those who did not. That's because strength training increases blood flow to the brain, releasing mood-boosting brain hormones like norepinephrine and dopamine.

2. Improve cognitive function.

A study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry showed that people who did strength training twice a week showed significant improvements in cognitive function after 18 months. Researchers say strength training thickens gray matter in a part of the brain often affected in early Alzheimer's disease.

3. Reduce your risk of falling.

Falls are the leading cause of death for people over the age of 65, and weakness in lower body strength, especially in the legs, is a major risk factor. A review of 17 studies published in the British Medical Journal found that older adults who participated in a fall prevention exercise program that included strength training reduced their risk by more than a third.

4. Reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.

In a Japanese study published in the Journal of Diabetes Research, people over the age of 60 who performed low-intensity resistance training twice a week for 16 weeks significantly increased their blood sugar levels. According to Su Hao, the aging process itself is caused by insufficient cell energy supply, and strength training can delay cell aging and improve sugar metabolism.

5. Prevent heart disease.

A 2018 study of 4,086 adults from the American College of Cardiology found that strength training is more protective of health than aerobic exercise. A study published last year in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise showed that less than an hour of resistance exercise per week can reduce the risk of developing metabolic syndrome, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and elevated blood sugar, among other things. "This is because strength training increases the body's glucose and lipid metabolism." Su Hao explained.

6. Relieve chronic kidney disease symptoms.

Muscle wasting is one of the symptoms of chronic kidney disease. A study published last year in the American Journal of Physiology found that patients who performed a combination of aerobic exercise and strength training three times a week experienced a significant increase in muscle strength and overall fitness, as well as a reduction in other symptoms of kidney disease such as itching, shortness of breath, impotence and muscle spasms. Patients who only did aerobic exercise had no significant effect.

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