The Evidence Is Weighing In On Why You Should Be Lifting Weights

Cross-sectional studies have shown that muscular strength and size is inversely associated with all-cause mortality.


The evidence is weighing in on why you should be lifting weights

Improvements in bone density

Osteoporosis  is characterized by low bone density and increased susceptibility to fractures, primarily of the hip, spine, and wrist.

It is estimated to cause 1.5 million fractures annually in the United States in people aged 50 years and older.

Physical activity, particularly weight-bearing exercise, is thought to provide the mechanical stimuli or “loading” that is important for the maintenance and improvement of bone health.

While some studies are mixed, high-intensity resistance training, in contrast to traditional pharmacological  approaches for improving bone health, has the added benefit of influencing multiple risk factors,  including improved strength and balance and increased muscle mass.


Well being and Quality of Life

Well Being can be physical (e.g. pain, energy/fatigue, sleep disturbance), emotional (e.g. depression, anxiety, positive affect), self-concept (e.g. self-esteem), and global perceptions of health.

Resistance training improves muscle strength and the capacity to perform Activities of Daily Living (ADLs).  In addition, it can effect all aspects of well being.


Reduced risk of  heart disease

The metabolic effects of reduced muscle mass, induced by the aging process and/or decreased physical activity, has resulted in a high prevalence of obesity, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, and hypertension.

These risk factors are associated with abnormalities in cardiovascular structure and function, such as arterial stiffness and impaired blood vessel function.

Skeletal muscle is the primary metabolic machinery for glucose and triglyceride metabolism and is an important determinant of resting metabolic rate (calorie burning at rest).

Consequently, resistance training and subsequent increases in muscle mass, may reduce multiple cardiovascular disease risk factors, including Type II diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and advancing age


Decreased pain from arthritis


High-intensity strength training is feasible and safe in patients with well-controlled Rheumatoid Arthritis and leads to significant improvements in strength, pain, and fatigue, without exacerbating disease activity or joint pain.

Muscle strength training is also effective for osteoarthritis. A study of 20 individuals with osteoarthritis of the knee showed that muscle strength training had a significant decrease in pain and stiffness, and a significant increase in mobility. There was also a significant decline in arthritis activity.


Decreased risk of  type 2 diabetes

High-intensity progressive resistance training, in combination with moderate weight loss, was found to be effective in improving glycemic control in older patients with type 2 diabetes. It was also found to improve HbA1c levels.


Improved  sleep

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Studies have shown that exercise, under certain conditions, may have beneficial effects upon sleep and that there appears to be a correlation between strength gains/losses on sleep.

Physical exercise could be an alternative or complementary approach to existing therapies for sleep problems.


Reduced  depression

Resistance training has the potential to reduce depression while improving physiologic capacity, quality of life, morale, function and self efficacy . In addition,  it has been shown to induce significant improvement in  tension, anger, and mood.


Key Points

Resistance training confers a number of improvements on health and disease as well as enhancing physical function, wellness and athletic performance that are associated with the concomitant increases in muscle strength, power, endurance, and hypertrophy.

In order to be effective, a resistance training program should include the proper prescription of acute variables, preferably under the supervision of a qualified exercise professional. These include:

  • Progressive overload
  • Variation
  • Specificity


Additional References


About the Author

Dr. Geoff LecovinNaturopathic Physician/Chiropractor/Acupuncturist/Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist/Corrective Exercise Specialist/Performance Enhancement Specialist/Certified Sports Nutritionist/View all posts by Dr. Geoff Lecovin