Science-Backed Reasons to Strength Train

Here are 21 science-backed ways you should lift weights.

We all know we should strength train. After all, it’s the not-so-secret way to boost your metabolism and stay strong into your 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond. On the off chance you haven’t committed to a strength training routine yet, though, let us give you that extra nudge you may need—21 of them, to be exact.

From mood-boosting to posture improving and nearly every category in between, study after study suggests that strength training is essential to a healthy body and mind. The Mayo Clinic recommends getting in 20-30 minutes of strength training at least two times a week for healthy adults, which isn’t a huge time commitment to add on to your existing exercise regimen. So if you haven’t been hitting the weights or doing your planks lately (remember, strength training can utilize dumbbells or simply your own body weight) here are 21 more science-backed reasons to do so.

Regular Strength Training

1. Revs your metabolism. Strength training is THE key to jump-starting your metabolism! Why? It increases your muscle mass, helping you burn more calories at rest—even when you’re not working out.

2. Gives you more energy. Exercise of any kind is known to decrease fatigue and increase your natural energy levels, and weight lifting is no exception.

3. Improves joint health and stability. Weight training with dumbbells or simply your own body weight builds bone density and strengthens the muscles that control your joints, leading to better stability.

4. Reduces anxiety. Studies show that the endorphins released during weight lifting can help reduce anxiety and promote an overall sense of wellbeing. 

5. Improves your posture. Bodyweight exercises that strengthen the core like planks or crunches will improve your posture, which can help with neck and back pain or prevent future injury.

6. Boosts your confidence. Participants in a study of 152 women split into two groups found that the group who weight-trained twice a week for 15 weeks had significantly higher scores on the Body Cathexis Scale, which refers to a person’s self-esteem in relation to their body image.

7. Increases bone mass. Weightlifting drastically decreases your risk of getting osteoarthritis or osteoporosis as you age as it increases your bone mass.

8. Helps you perform daily activities. Weight training doesn’t just help you look leaner and more sculpted, it improves your quality of life by making it easier to perform daily activities. Everything from shoveling to lifting heavy objects is easier when you strength train, and that’s an empowering fact you can take with you as you age: the knowledge that you’re strong and independent enough to take care of things by yourself.

9. Increases blood flow. Studies show that resistance exercises (like lifting weights) improve blood circulation throughout the body, even more so than aerobic activity.

10. Lowers your cancer risk. A recent study showed that working out vigorously—with a combination of cardio and strength training—can cut your risk of lung or breast cancer by as much as 30 percent.

11. Boosts your immune system. Weight training can improve the effectiveness of your immune system like any other form of exercise.

12. Helps you sleep better. Getting enough exercise of any form can help improve your sleep quality, but studies suggest weight training, in particular, can help you get better sleep, which is one of the most important things you can do for your overall health.

13. Keeps your brain sharp. Studies have shown that weight training helps improve your memory, language skills, and focus—all things that, as we age, can occasionally decline. So protect your brain with a consistent strength training routine!

14. Protects your arteries. Not only will weightlifting help you keep off extra pounds that put you at risk for heart disease, but building muscle removes glucose and triglycerides from the blood, which helps prevent your arteries from hardening.

15. Reduces resting blood pressure and keeps your heart healthy. In addition to keeping your bloodstream free of glucose and triglycerides, building lean muscle through strength training can also reduce your resting blood pressure, which protects your heart.

16. Improves your balance. Yoga isn’t the only activity that will improve your balance—strength training helps improve the coordination of muscles working together, promoting better balance.

17. Fights seasonal depression. While all movement is a great combatant to seasonal affective disorder—the lingering fatigue or depression that hangs around mid-winter when we get less sunlight and exercise, weight training is especially helpful at ridding you of the winter blues.

18. Increases your kinesthetic awareness. Your kinesthetic awareness is your body’s concept of its own position in time and space. For better coordination and kinesthetic awareness, weightlifting is one of the best solutions because it challenges your equilibrium and increases your balance. 

19.Prevents and helps with arthritis. Strength training helps strengthen and protect the joints affected by arthritis, as well as reduce arthritic pain.

20. Improves flexibility. Studies show that strength training can improve flexibility even more so than static stretching.

21. Helps you live longer. Overall, because incorporating strength training helps keep your heart healthy, normalize blood glucose levels and ward off disease, adding it to your weekly workout routine will help you live longer (and stronger!) than you would without it.