We all know that strength or resistance training – whether it be with free weights, weight machines or resistance bands – can help build and maintain muscle mass and strength. But what most of us don’t associate with strength training is strong bones, injury prevention and psychological health.
Strong muscles mean strong bones, which can help minimise injury
Without strong bones, you may increase your chances of getting fractures due to osteoporosis. Strength training can actually play a role in slowing bone loss, which is useful to help offset age-related declines in bone mass.
Strength training also targets bones of the hips, spine, and wrists, which are the sites most likely to fracture as you age. Furthermore, resistance workouts can enhance strength and stability, which can boost confidence, encourage you to stay active, and reduce fractures by making you less likely to fall.
Squats are one of the best strength and functional exercises for strong muscles and bones
Functional exercise are ones that help your body perform real life activities, and squats are one of the best kind. Think picking up shopping bags from the floor and getting up and down from your chair. Both of these involve a squatting motion.
Squats also have a host of other benefits:
Burn more calories – Because they help you build leg muscle. In fact, they are one of the few exercises that recruit so many muscles at once, including quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, abdominal muscles, lower back and glutes.
Improve flexibility – Squatting regularly will see you limber up and become more flexible as the exercise involves bending and stretching of the leg muscles. This is important, especially as we age and our muscles, tendons and ligaments become less elastic.
Help with mobility and balance. Strong legs help you stay more mobile as you get older. Squats also develop your core stabilising muscles, which helps you maintain balance.
Prevent injuries – Most athletic and workout injuries involve weak ligaments, connective tissues and stabiliser muscles (muscles that aren't directly involved in a movement, but work to keep you steady so that your primary muscles can do their job). Squats actually help to strengthen these supportive tissues, which can mean the difference between an injury or not.
Strength training has psychological benefits
Aside from the physical benefits of strength training, you’ll likely experience a host of psychological benefits that will improve your life overall.
Stress less – Like aerobic exercise, resistance exercise can also help improve your mood and help reduce levels of anxiety.1
Sleep better – Anxiety often goes hand in hand with disturbed sleep. Research has shown that resistance training can help you go to sleep more quickly and sleep more efficiently.1
Feel more confident and competent – Over time, as you start to lift heavier weights and get better at what you’re doing, you’ll feel a sense of mastery and you’ll also begin to see improvements in your strength. This can give you a confidence and self-esteem boost, and help you feel like you can achieve a lot more.
You’ll forget about the day’s problems – When you’re in the midst of tough reps it’s hard to think about the work colleague who upset you that day or the grocery shopping you need to do after your workout. The intensity and focus needed for strength training makes it impossible for you to focus on anything but what is happening in that moment. It’s a great distraction from the stressors of daily life.