Amongst the various types of training, weight training remains by far the most popular and in many ways quite rightly so. Weight training, a form of resistance training, dates back to ancient times. Of course the structure and pattern of weight training developed much recently in the mid 20th century. By structure and patterns I mean the way we organize the weight training in sets, repetitions and rest times are relatively of recent origin.
While athletes require weight training for obvious reasons, the general population too needs a regular prescription of weight training. One of the primary benefits of weight training is the building and preservation of lean muscle mass; the moment we talk of lean muscle mass, a lot of people cringe and smirk! When I say lean mass, people tend to envision the hulky bodybuilders or movie stars, which is not really the case. Lean muscle mass is an essential physiological requirement of the human body. Muscle has important functions- besides giving structural support, it enables the human body to move and function efficiently. As we age our muscle mass reduces; similarly when we do not use the muscles it atrophies or reduces in size and strength. Let us take an imaginary scenario; a person incurs an injury in one leg and because of that, the person is unable to use the same. If the period of immobility is extended there is visible reduction of muscle in the legs which in turn causes weakness and makes even simple day to day movements difficult. So preservation and continuous activation of our skeletal muscles are crucial in order to maintain the functional quality of our lives. And of course looking good when you wear your polo t shirt or jeans do not hurt- does it?
Along with muscle mass ageing also causes loss of bone density. The simultaneous loss of muscle and bone, also called osteosarcopenia is a major field of study today, especially among the geriatric population. Studies have shown that weight training can reduce the osteosarcopenia which is boon for elderly people. Loss of bone mass causes debilitating conditions like osteoporosis which is painful and reduces the overall quality of life. Women are physiologically more susceptible to osteoporosis and ironically women shy away from weights than their male counterparts. There is enough research to indicate that weight training can not only reduce bone loss but also strengthen weakened bones.
When I was a gawky teenager eagerly lifting weights, most of my relatives and well wishers warned me of the adverse impact it is going to have on my studies, especially my memory and concentration; lifting weights was considered the dumb thing to do! The truth is rather the exact opposite. Lifting weights, not only improves symptoms of anxiety and depression, but can also improve cognition, memory and creativity. Research shows that exercise – combination of weight training with cardiovascular workouts can not only improve brain function but also causes neurogenesis and neuroplasticity- which is an exciting field of research for patients suffering from dementia and other similar conditions like Alzheimer’s. Working closely with a team of neurophysiologists, doctors and trainers from New York, I have personally seen positive changes, as a result of weight training, in all my senior clients as well as kids and teenagers.
Another major lifestyle disease of modern urban society is spinal problems- cervical or lumbar. Very often the cause is bad posture and weak postural and stabilizer muscles. This can be rectified with a structured weight training program which would aim to target these muscles specifically. If done at the right time and correct manner it can save a lifetime of pain, medical bills and surgery.
Besides these, most of the common lifestyle diseases like hypertension, dyslipidemia, diabetes can be managed effectively through weight training. The beauty of weight training is that it is gentle on the joints, safe and effective. Anyone from the age of 6 to 80 can start training with weights. The benefits of weight training far outweigh any potential adverse effects. Done properly under the guidance of a qualified trainer, weight training can be the panacea of most modern day medical woes and vastly improve the functional capacity and quality of life.
The Author Angshuman Dutta is the Founder of Transformers Fitness Academy, one of the premier Fitness Training Academies of India. For more information on our courses please visit https://www.transformersfitnessacademy.com/courses