I Do Cardio Exercise - Do I Really Need Resistance Training, Too?
Resistance training was once used exclusively by competitive athletes and body builders. Current research indicates that resistance training affords many benefits for all, regardless of gender or age. Resistance training is any type of weight bearing exercise that requires one to work the muscles harder than what one’s regular daily activities requires. This “overload” on a regular basis over time will stimulate the body to adapt and improve in muscular strength and muscular endurance. These improvements can improve the athlete’s performance and it can improve the non-athlete’s ability to tackle that flight of stairs without getting as tired. The increased muscular strength and endurance makes the workload easier, so even your cardiovascular system doesn’t have to work as hard to supply those leg muscles with oxygen to produce the extra energy.
Muscles aren’t the only things that are strengthened by resistance training. Bones and joints also get stronger with proper resistance training. Resistance training can actually trigger an increase in bone density, making it one of the best forms of exercise to fight osteoporosis. Resistance training even causes an increase in the number and strength of collagen fibers in connective tissues, enabling the connective tissues in joints to withstand greater loads. The functions of muscles, bones, and joints are intertwined. The bones provide structural support and stability. The muscles generate the mechanical energy to produce movement by pulling on the bones. The connective tissues provide the link to transmit the mechanical energy produced by muscular contractions to the bones to produce the movement. Therefore, there must be a balance of the functional abilities of the muscles, bones, and joints. The enhancements elicited by resistance training in all three of these components, then, can serve to reduce the risk of injuries to the musculoskeletal system. Proper resistance training can also be used to correct imbalances between agonist-antagonist muscle groups. These muscular imbalances can cause anomalies in structural alignment, such as poor posture and deviated spinal curvatures. Muscular imbalances can also contribute to musculoskeletal injuries.
Resistance training can also assist in the maintenance of a healthy body composition. Muscle is a metabolically active tissue, meaning that it burns calories, even at rest. As muscle mass increases, one’s basal metabolic rate (BMR) increases, making it easier to balance caloric output with caloric intake. This is a particularly important consideration for women, because they generally have less muscle mass than do men, and the elderly, because humans tend to lose an average of one-half pound of muscle per year after the age of 20 years. Stress can also be relieved through resistance training due to the biochemical changes that are created in the central nervous system. Resistance training has also been proven effective in the battle against certain diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and certain types of arthritis.
With all of these benefits, don’t you think you need resistance training, too?