Strength training: It's a family affair

For years, strength training has carried the weight of blame for bulky arms and sore backs. But did you know strength training can be the secret behind looking young and feeling it, too?

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  • Many people shy away from strength training because of a pervasive stigma associated with it: Weight gain. All too often, we hear excuses for why people choose to avoid strength training: "I don't want to bulk up" or "I don't need to focus on weights." However, strength training is an important part of anyone's workout routine, regardless of gender, body size and fitness goals. In fact, the benefits are lifelong and can especially help as you age. Besides the fact that strength training can boost your metabolism by 15 percent, muscle is also a key component to burning fat.

  • Many health experts also promote the benefits of strength training for kids. Keep in mind, this is strength training, not weightlifting.

  • According to an articlepublished by the Mayo Clinic, "Light resistance and controlled movements are best for kids with a special emphasis on proper technique and safety. Your child can do many strength training exercises with his or her own body weight or inexpensive resistance tubing. Free weights and machine weights are other options."

  • If you're still not convinced of the benefits of strength training, consider the following additional reasons you should pick up a dumbbell and add some resistance into your exercise routine:

  • Strengthen muscles you didn't know you had

  • Ever wondered how a ballerina can stand on her tiptoes and move her legs so effortlessly? The truth is that there are so many miniscule muscles and fibers that get overlooked during aerobic activity. Strength training offers you a way to strengthen non-bulky muscles by building stronger, thicker fibers that can enhance agility. It's time to work out those little muscles that can do a disproportionately large load of work for you.

  • For kids, strength training increases muscle endurance and strength. Regular exercise also improves a child's performance in physical activities such as dancing or sports activities, and reduces the chance of injury.

  • Natural mood enhancer

  • We already know that cardio releases endorphins to make us happier, but did you know that strength training produces this same benefit? In addition, strength training has been shown to be an anti-depressant. You really have no excuse not to add a little extra resistance to your workout when it can so easily increase your overall standard of happiness.

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  • For kids, the sense of accomplishment in choosing to exercise, and becoming adept at certain techniques, is an effective self-esteem booster. Kids look good, and they feel good.

  • Reduce the effects of aging

  • With age comes increased responsibility for body maintenance. Strength training has been proven to reduce arthritis pain by as much as 43%, according to a Tufts University research study. The study also showed that strength training can ease osteoarthritis pain almost as much as most medications. Furthermore, strength training increases balance and strength, reducing the risk of falling, which is the biggest ailment associated with aging. In a New Zealand study of women above the age of 80, the risk of falling was reduced by 40% among women who engaged in strength and balance exercises. Other benefits of strength training as you age include improved glucose control, weight management, stronger bones, better sleep and healthier hearts.

  • For young people, incorporating strength training into one's daily schedule develops early lifelong habits that promote good health, strong bones, and healthy weight.

  • The benefits of strength training clearly outweigh the unfounded fears associated with avoiding it. So, the next time you find yourself thinking about skipping resistance training, don't give into stigma and innuendo. When you engage, as a family, in strength exercises, you'll be in awe of what your body is capable of, and your body will reward you every day with a happier state of mind, a better sense of balance and an overall boost of self-confidence.

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