The benefits of lifting weights extend well beyond building bigger and stronger muscles. Weightlifting strengthens your bones and can help you stay active and healthy as you age. It increases your resting metabolic rate and can improve your cholesterol profile and reduce your risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Not surprisingly, lifting weights increases the size, strength and power of your muscles. As you gain lean body mass, you also increase your resting metabolic rate, meaning that you burn more calories even when you're not working out. Maintaining muscle mass is especially important as you grow older. Elderly individuals tend to lose muscle mass and strength, a condition called sarcopenia. Lifting weights helps you maintain muscle mass and stay active as you age.
Bone and Joints
Bone mineral density also declines with age, increasing your risk of fractures. By stressing your bones, weightlifting stimulates them to grow thicker and stronger. Weightlifting can reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis and can slow or even reverse the progression of existing osteoporosis. Stronger muscles also support your joints. Lifting weights reduces your risk of developing osteoarthritis. If you have osteoarthritis, weightlifting may lessen your pain and make movement easier.
Strength training improves several risk factors for heart disease. It increases HDL, sometimes called the "good" cholesterol, and reduces LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, as well as triglycerides. Lifting weights can normalize high blood pressure. It improves insulin sensitivity and reduces resting insulin levels, decreasing your risk of developing diabetes. Strength training may also improve your mental health. It can help relieve depression and anxiety, reduce fatigue and make you more energetic.
The American College of Sports Medicine, or ACSM, recommends performing resistance exercise, including lifting weights, two to three days per week. ACSM suggests two to four sets per exercise, although single sets can be useful for newer weightlifters and for the elderly. The ACSM recommends eight to12 reps per set to build strength and 10 to 15 reps to develop muscular endurance. Rest two to three minutes between sets and at least two days between weightlifting workouts.