Recent studies show that as many as 66 million Americans belong to a health club–that’s one out of every five! However, polls indicate that half of all gym-goers suffer from appearance-based gym anxiety. With the overwhelming focus on the aesthetic in social and popular media, the pressure to lose weight, gain muscle, and chase after scale and appearance-related goals is at an all-time high. But the reasons to strength train go beyond the way we look, the way our clothes fit, or what the scale says about us.
By stepping away from goals that are purely related to aesthetics and weight, we can reclaim our joy, not just in the gym, but in our lives. Let’s look at 7 reasons to strength train that have nothing to do with how you look:
1. Better health and longer life
Things as little as being able to get up and down off of the ground have been linked to longer life expectancy. Strength training has also been shown to prevent heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and to increase bone density, help to ward off severe conditions, like osteoporosis, later in life. With wins like that, getting to the gym is worth it every time!
2. Community and family
The gym can provide opportunities for human connections, friendships, and accountability–like the encouragement and motivation we get from our personal trainer each week, or the camaraderie of sweating alongside our fellow gym-goers. Regular strength training can also make it easier to engage in hobbies we enjoy with the people we love, like hiking and paddling, playing baseball with our kids, or taking dance classes with a loved one. Regular exercise can make life more fun!
3. Better sleep
Engaging regularly in moderate to vigorous exercise has been shown to improve sleep quality. It helps you to fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep without as much need for sleep medication. We’ll be talking about it next… but sneak preview, exercising can lessen mid-day tiredness as well, making it easier to keep a more regular sleep schedule.
4. More energy
Exercise changes our bodies at a cellular level. From increased hormone production that can energize us, to greater mitochondrial density in our tissues, strength training can directly and indirectly boost our energy levels. In a world where we are always looking for more hours in the day, what can be better than a natural energy boost?
5. Mood boosts
Improved health, increased energy, better sleep, and being a part of an extended gym family can all go a long way towards improving your mood. But studies have shown that on a physical and chemical level exercise can improve your brain health as well. It can increase the release of neurotransmitters and neurotrophic factors, both of which are linked to lowered risk of depressive symptoms. We all go through ups and downs occasionally, so having a way to keep the downs at bay can be a gift!
6. Functional Health
At any age – the ability to pick up our kids and grandkids, carry groceries, or get ourselves up out of a seat are all activities that we expect to be able to engage in without injury. But as work, play, and life itself take a toll on us, our functional wellness and quality of living can suffer. Exercise can help to prevent injuries related to our everyday activities, and can help alleviate the aches and pains related to repetitive stresses that many of us are constantly exposed to. Overall, exercise can help us feel and perform better while being human.
7. Strength and Confidence
While this seems like an obvious one, following a strength training routine for the simple joy of gaining strength can be extremely satisfying. Knowing that we can do hard things on the gym floor can boost our confidence. It can help us remember that we are capable, and we can move overwhelming obstacles outside of the gym as well.
Now make it actionable
Are you excited to hit the gym yet? As great as the list above sounds, we are bombarded with advertisements for programs to help us get a “beach body” or a new fad diet on a daily basis. Our familiarity with this mindset can make it easy to fall back on body composition and scale related goals, and the anxiety that can accompany them. So how can you avoid the trap and remember the reasons to strength train outside of the aesthetic benefits?
First, focus on what appeals to you. If functional health gets you excited, focus on the ability to get up and down off the ground unaided, or set a balance goal.
If you’ve been a little tired lately, exercising with a goal to increase your energy could bring results that improve your life for the better on a daily basis.
If sleep is a problem for you, tracking your sleep patterns along with your training routine could provide useful insight.
The most important thing is to identify what makes you come alive, and work from there! Setting goals around that will keep you motivated, and keep you excited.
If you need some help along the way, working with your Hyatt Training personal trainer to set goals and shape your training plan around them can be the support you need to improve your health, and your life.
Hyatt Training is a team of certified, enthusiastic and innovative personal trainers in Portland, Oregon. Get in touch with us by emailing Go@HyattTraining.com.
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