Only start with guidance from a professional.  PHOTO/COURTESY


Lifting weights may help you live longer - study

What you need to know:

  • Weight lifting is not just about bulking up and building muscle mass.
  • Its benefits include improved posture, better sleep, gaining bone density, maintaining weight loss, boosting metabolism, lowering inflammation and staving off chronic disease, among others.

Many theories have associated weightlifting with bettering one’s mood and muscle strengthening since it is a strength training workout. However, a study published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine on September 28 shows that the workout could also help you live longer.

“People who lift weights once or twice a week, without doing any other exercise had a nine percent lower risk of dying from any cause except for cancer. People who paired one to two days of weekly weight lifting with aerobic exercise fared even better; their risk of dying was 41 percent lower than those who did not exercise,” the study results read in part.

Jessica Gorzelitz, a co-author of the study adds that weightlifting is even amazing for women, most of whom are not eager to engage in the workout for fear of getting bulkier muscles. “Weightlifting will give you better muscle mass, healthier muscles and stronger bones. It is really important to not just live long, but to live well,” she says.

Josiah Bugeza, a fitness trainer says weight lifting is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle.  Adding weight lifting to your training routine will with time offer the following benefits:

Increases muscle mass 
When people reach their 30s, they start losing as much as three to five percent of lean muscle mass with every passing decade. Therefore, according to Bugeza, engaging in 30 minutes, twice a week of weight lifting helps to improve muscle mass, functional performance, as well as bone density, structure, and strength in postmenopausal women with low bone mass.

Increases self-esteem 
In a study; Effects of aerobic training, resistance training, or both on psychological health in adolescents with obesity, the people involved experienced a boost in self esteem and confidence after four weeks. 
“The feeling comes from getting stronger with time. Ultimately, one feels more competent and can do almost anything,” the study results state. 

Betters chronic disease management 
According to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), strength training, in the form of weight lifting helps ease symptoms in people with chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and some cancers. In regards to people with diabetes, weight lifting also helps with glucose control, which eases living with the ailment. Weightlifting further helps in easing movement among people with type 2 diabetes and hypertension.

Reduces chronic lower back pain 
In most cases, lifting heavy weight causes problems with the back. However, Bugeza says, being a strengthening exercise, weight lifting helps in reducing back pain. 

“The rule of thumb is to ensure one does not lift more than they can manage because many get into the workout with the goal of bulking up their muscles. The intention here is that with every session, back strength is improved to help the muscles around the spine support it better. That way, one carries out activities with ease,” he says. 

Reduced anxiety 
Lifting weights requires focus and intensity and this is enough to get your mind off the stresses of life onto the present activity. Additionally, one is required to give their all for the foreseeable benefits which helps the mind deal with anxiety and stress better.

Boosts metabolic rate (BMR)
Weight lifting enables one to lose a number of calories. With time, one’s metabolic rate improves since one requires strength to make it through the exercise. Eventually, weight loss becomes an added advantage because excess fat is burned in the process,” Bugeza says.

Other benefits include increased testosterone levels, which can help protect brain cells and preserve cognitive function, improved body balance, reversing ageing factors such as sarcopenia which is natural loss of lean muscle mass that comes with aging and increased walking speed.

As much as weight lifting should be considered as part of a healthy lifestyle, it could be dangerous, especially if done without guidance from a well-trained coach. Bugeza, a weightlifting trainer, says the dangers include:
● Muscle and joint damage if not done in proper form.
● Tearing a heart artery in cases of extreme heavy lifting.
● You can also get hurt by improperly using gym equipment.
● Not letting your body properly recover increases your risk for injury and illness.

Who should lift weights?
Weight lifting is good for people of all ages and fitness levels, especially people in their 50s as they have to deal with sarcopenia (loss of lean muscle mass due to aging).

However, Bugeza says, teenagers should avoid lifting weights as the exercise could damage their tendons and bones. Additionally, those who are 70 years of age or older should slowly ease off the exercise.