Health Benefits of weightlifting by Dr. Ayyappan V Nair

Weight lifting or resistance training conventionally has been practised by professionals like sports persons, wrestlers, or actors and models. However, with the current internet world, there has been an increase in awareness about weight lifting among the general consensus as well. It is noticed that many people including teens, youth, aged and postmenopausal females have started resistance training exercises, be it for passion, fitness or casually.

But how beneficial it is for each age bracket? Let us understand the actual benefits of weight lifting. Research indicates that inactive adults experience 3% to 8% loss of muscle mass per decade, accompanied by resting metabolic rate reduction and fat accumulation. Ten weeks of resistance training may increase lean weight by 1.4 kg, increase the resting metabolic rate by 7%, and reduce fat weight by 1.8 kg. 

Resistance training may help to prevent or manage type 2 diabetes by decreasing visceral fat, reducing Glycated hemoglobin, increasing the density of glucose transporter type 4, and improving insulin sensitivity. Resistance training enhances cardiovascular health, by reducing resting blood pressure, decreasing low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides, and increasing high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Studies have shown that resistance training has promoted upto 3% increase in bone mineral density.

For ladies, it helps to avoid osteoporosis (a condition in which bones become weak and brittle) and burn calories and belly fat. It also helps to improve mood and sleeping pattern as well.

For elderly people, apart from the above mentioned benefits, it improves coordination of muscles and cognitive reflexes. Current research has shown that strength-training exercises have the ability to combat weakness and frailty and their debilitating consequences. If done regularly (ideally for 2 to 3 days per week), these exercises build muscle strength and muscle, improve physical performance, movement, control, walking speed, functional independence while preserving the bone density.

For people who work more in office or on computers, it improves posture. A desk job can make you feel exhausted, and at the same time, ruins your posture. By lifting weights, you can strengthen your core and back muscles, and open up your chest. Research shows lifting weights also helps to reduce anxiety, chronic pain, depression, fatigue symptoms and widespread muscle pain. 

To start weight lifting, if not under professional training, it is prudent to start gradually and slowly. One needs to begin with warm ups and with lighter weights and increase them gradually. Always take rest between two sets. Limit your workout to no longer than 40-45 minutes. Gently stretch your muscles after your workout. Rest a day or two in between workouts. 

In conclusion, a simple work out of weight lifting for few minutes daily is beneficial for people of all ages. It improves all aspects of physical, mental and emotional well-being of every person which is essentially the definition of good health by the World Health Organisation.

Dr. Ayyappan V Nair, Consultant – Shoulder Surgery, Sports Medicine and Arthroscopy, Manipal Hospitals, Jayanagar

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