07/12/2016 01:35 EDT | Updated 07/12/2016 01:59 EDT

Resistance Training Benefits Go Beyond Better Strength

Shutterstock / Bobby Scrivener

There are many myths and misconceptions surrounding resistance training -- that it will cause you to bulk up, that it could make you less flexible, that it takes too much time. These myths are simply not true and there are actually several benefits that come with resistance training. By adding resistance training (also known as strength or weight training) to your fitness routine, you're actually aiding your long-term health.

Performed using weights and weight machines, resistance training pushes your muscles to their limit and causes them to overcome the force of resistance. Through repeated resistance training, you create stronger and more resilient muscles, which benefits your overall health over time. In addition to helping you look and feel good, adding resistance training into your weekly routine will help prevent disease and injury, and promote muscle growth.

Resistance training can positively impact both your physical and mental health with these five benefits:

1. It helps to Keep Body Fat Off

Cardio and aerobic exercise is often touted as the optimum option for losing weight, but resistance training can actually help you lose the weight and keep it off. Resistance training creates lean muscle mass, which increases the body's basal metabolic rate. Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the number of calories you would burn if you laid in bed all day long. Having a higher BMR basically turns your body into a more efficient metabolic machine, allowing it to deal with incoming calories more efficiently. The question of whether calories count or not certainly depends on the context of the question. Whether or not it is beneficial to have a more powerful BMR is not. For every pound of muscle you gain, you burn 30 to 50 more calories each day.

2. It Prevents Diseases Such as Heart Disease and Type 2 Diabetes

In addition to being an effective way to lose and keep weight off, resistance training also helps prevent a variety of diseases. By lowering body fat, decreasing blood pressure, and improving cholesterol, resistance training lowers the stress placed on the heart, preventing heart disease. It can also aid in preventing diabetes. One minute to an hour of resistance training a week can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 12 per cent.

3. It Protects Muscle Mass and Bone Density

Without proper exercise, we begin to lose muscle mass as we age. Between the ages of 50 and 80, individuals can lose up to 15 per cent of their muscle mass per decade if they remain inactive, or even develop sarcopenia, a degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass. Resistance training helps build and maintain muscle and helps protect muscle mass by improving bone density. It also decreases the risk of osteoporosis and can increase spinal bone mineral density.

4. It Prevents Injury and Builds Strength

Resistance training can also help prevent injuries, especially in the elderly. Resistance training strengthens not only your muscles, but your tendons and ligaments as well, meaning they will be less likely to give way under stress. Resistance training builds muscle around your knees and back, and will also reduce pain in these areas by promoting muscle growth.

5. It Can Make You Happier

In addition to making you leaner, stronger, and healthier, resistance training can also make you happier. Resistance training triggers a biochemical change in your brain that has the same effect as anti-depressants. It also boosts your self-esteem and helps you sleep better and counteract insomnia, allowing your everyday mood to improve.

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