One of the most damaging misconceptions surrounding the world of fitness is that lifting weights is simply an exercise in vanity. But an essential lesson to internalize — for both experienced athletes and enthusiastic beginners — is that looking nice is just a side effect of the process. An enjoyable side effect, sure, and for many, it’s the reason they pick up a barbell in the first place.
But the benefits of strength go way, way, way beyond that. Some of them – confidence, lower body fat, resistance to injury – you’re probably aware of. Still, it would be a disservice not to mention some additional perks alongside the popular ones we all see on magazine covers. Below you’ll find eight unique yet potent benefits of lifting weights.
Benefits of Lifting Weights
- A Stronger Brain
- Cleaner Blood
- Activated Genes
- Reduced Depression
- Fewer Strokes
- Improved Posture
- Better Relationships
- Better Sleep Quality
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A Stronger Brain
Like many parts of the body, the brain tends to shrink with age, but lifting weights appears to help slow the process.
A lot of the classic literature surrounding the interaction of exercise on brain health focuses on the benefits of aerobics. Fortunately, modern science is finally concluding that lifting is good for the mind. Aggregate analyses confirm that regular resistance training augments critical thinking skills and recall, with the benefits being more potent the earlier in life you start lifting. (1)
When younger folks start a lifting habit, it builds a stronger brain that’s less susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of mental decline, possibly because progressive resistance training seems to boost BDNF, a protein that helps to build new brain cells. (2)
- Find a training split or program that suits your needs and stick to it. There’s no specific exercise that will make you smarter or quick-witted, but the overall benefits are too large to ignore.
Worried about your cholesterol levels? Strength training can be a solid natural remedy. In one widely-cited study of women in their twenties, 14 weeks of heavy strength training (at 85 percent of their one-rep max) resulted in significant decreases in blood cholesterol levels, including a strong trend towards a more favorable ratio of “bad” to “good” cholesterol. (3)