A lot of the health benefits you get from exercise in general can be derived through strength training. It decreases risk of cardiovascular disease and increases insulin sensitivity to name a few.
Strength training can also be really beneficial to mental health as it is a great stress reliever. This is down to our natural 'feel-good' hormones - endorphins which are released from training the heart.
It has great benefits on the musculoskeletal system and can help treat and prevent back pain, knee, ankle and shoulder problems. Strengthening the muscles around a joint can help take the strain off joints. The knee is a great example, by strengthening quadriceps and hamstring muscles you are taking some of the load off the joint.
Strength Training for the Elderly
Strength training is a great form of exercise for an elderly population. Falls are a big issue in elderly, and fractured pelvis can have a shocking effect on an elderly person's life. Strength training is beneficial in helping to prevent falls. The stronger you are, the more easily you catch yourself if you are off balance. Strength training also increases bone density, which means if you have a fall you are less likely to break as bone.
Strength training can involve unilateral exercises. These are basically exercises done on 1 leg, such as lunges, single leg squats, standing hip extension and abduction. By standing on one leg you are challenging balance and the deep stabilising trunk muscles (core muscles). Maintaining your balance as you age is a big part of preventing falls.
Strength Training for Athletes
Virtually all sports have some dependence on maximal strength. It underpins performance in almost every sport. Sports such as football and rugby have an obvious need for a high level of maximal strength, but all sports from tennis to baseball rely on it to help improve performance.
Athletes use a variety of methods in strength training. Machine weights, free weights, dumbells, barbells, kettleballs, resistance bands are all available and useful tools in helping developing strength.
Strength training can not only enhance athletic performance, it can also help prevent injury. Most sports involve large amounts of force being produced and also absorbed by the body. Strength training can prepare ligaments, muscles and tendons to cope this high level of force experienced during sport.
A good strength training program also ensures that proper balance is maintained between muscle groups. Correct balance between opposing muscle groups ensures good posture, which leads to efficient movement, as well as helping prevent injury.
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