Why Strength Training is Important

With the sheer volume of information readily available on the internet, and the increasing number of self-proclaimed experts on social media, it is hard to determine what type of exercise you should be doing when engaging in an exercise program. Although this question is constantly being assessed, one of the most reliable sources of evidence-based information is the Australian Government Physical Activity and Exercise Guidelines.

The Guidelines state that Australian adults should include strengthening activities as part of their physical activity routine at least two days each week.

So, what exactly is Strength Training?

Strength Training refers to any activity that utilises activity to target improvements in strength for a specific muscle group. This is generally achieved through resistance training, which is utilising any form of resistance to increase muscle strength.

Although many people consider Strength Training as something that can only be completed at the gym, this is definitely not the case. It is possible to achieve specific muscle strengthening using exercises that use either body weight (e.g. push-ups), free weights (e.g. dumbbells), or machines as resistance. International research also suggests implementing other activities, such as aerobics, yoga, Pilates or strength-based classes at the gym, can be effective in improving specific muscle strength.

Why is Strength Training important?

Engaging in muscle strengthening activities are especially important because many of our daily activities require a degree of strength – including climbing stairs, gardening, and picking up children or grandchildren. However, the benefits of strength training extend far beyond improving functional capacity; strength training has also been proven to reduce falls in older adults, reduce the risk of cancer-related mortality (by up to 34%), reduce the prevalence of osteoporosis by maintaining bone density, and reduce the risk of premature death (by up to 21%).

Given that only 25% of Australian adults are achieving the national recommendations for strength training, consider all the opportunities you have throughout the day to integrate strengthening exercises into your day. It could be as simple as completing 10 squats after your morning walk or some bench push-ups while waiting for the kettle to boil. Consider how you can implement ‘everyday’ strength for a stronger and healthier life!

References
  • Seguin R & Nelson ME 2003. The benefits of strength training for older adults. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 25(Suppl 2): 141–9.
  • Department of Health. Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines. Canberra, Australia: Department of Health; 2014 [updated 2017]. Available from: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines.
  • Department of Health 2019. Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines and the Australian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines. Canberra: Department of Health. Viewed 20 November 2020, https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-actguidelines.
  • Brown WJ, Bauman AE, Bull FC & Burton NW 2012. Development of evidence-based physical activity recommendations for adults (18–64 years). Canberra: Department of Health.
  • Foster C & Armstrong M 2018. What types of physical activities are effective in developing muscle and bone strength and balance? Journal of Frailty, Sarcopenia and Falls 3(2):58–65.

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