With the summer season on the way, you may be feeling antsy to get out of the gym and start doing other activities while the weather is still nice.
Whether your passion is running, rollerblading, swimming, playing a game of tennis with a friend, or hitting the pool for a swim, you still cannot neglect the strength training element of your workout routine.
No form of outdoor cardio exercise is going to be able to replace the unique benefits of strength training, so it’s something that you must make sure you maintain throughout the summer.
Those who take the summer off from the weights entirely will be at risk for a number of negative consequences, and restarting back in the fall will be that much harder…
While it’s an excellent idea to forego the bikes, treadmills, and ellipticals in your gym to get your cardio sessions in outside while the weather’s warm (although I’d argue you don’t need them in the winter either, but that’s another topic…), maintaining your strength training is a necessity.
Strength Training and Muscle Mass
The very first reason to keep up your strength training sessions a few times a week is to ensure you aren’t losing muscle tissue.
As we age, muscle mass loss is inevitable without regular strength training workouts.
Muscle tissue is not easy tissue to gain back. This is especially true for women who naturally have low amounts of testosterone compared to a men. Protecting the muscle you have already worked so hard to build is one of the most important considerations of any well-rounded fitness program.
Why is having more muscle so important?
If you begin losing muscle mass, your strength will decrease, meaning everyday activities—including those outdoor activities you want to take part in—will become harder and harder.
Muscle plays a major role in fat burning…
While exercise does burn calories, you only work out a few hours per week. To increase fat burning, you need to increase your metabolism, specifically your Resting Metabolic Rate. Those who have a higher degree of muscle mass burn more calories even when they’re at rest.1
As a person ages, metabolism naturally slows down, leading to gradual weight gain. Muscle is a great way to counterbalance the body’s natural slowdown, and the earlier a person starts, the easier it will be to maintain that muscle over time.
Many people complain that the reason they’re gaining weight into the 40s and 50s is due to a slow metabolism, but really, that slow metabolism is happening (partly) because they are losing muscle.
The muscle gains you achieve with a proper strength training program can help reverse this process and actually INCREASE metabolism!
Strength Training and Bone Health
As a person grows older, bone loss is inevitable, especially for women after menopause.2 This can lead to bones breaking more easily, feelings of fatigue and weakness, and reduced tolerance to physical activity. Weight-bearing exercises strengthen bones, helping minimize natural bone loss and reducing the risk of injury.3
While other outdoor activities may be weight bearing in nature and still help with bone strength and formation, no other exercise is more weight bearing than strength training.
Since you’ll be supporting more weight than just your body weight, you can really take your bone health to the next level. One study published in the journal of Medicine and Science in Sports And Exercise illustrated that strength training is superior in terms of combating osteoporosis compared to aerobic activity only.4
This can prevent stress fractures or bone breaks down the road, both of which could become very serious if you are into your 60s and 70s.
Strength Training And Disease Prevention
Strength training has been shown to provide a number of health benefits, including a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.5 By continuing your strength training year round, you’ll continue to reap the rewards of the hard work you put in during the cold winter months.
A Tufts University study even found that participants in a strength training program were able to see a marked reduction in arthritis pain. In fact, the study found that the end result was better than that received from medications.
Strength training can also improve a person’s mental health, reducing depression and improving sleep quality.
Strength Training and Insulin Sensitivity
Finally, the last nice thing about strength training that you must note is its impact on insulin sensitivity.
Your insulin sensitivity level is one of the key factors determining your risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome, a condition that’s starting to impact more and more females.
A regular strength training workout routine will help to keep your tissue cells more responsive to insulin, so should you consume carbohydrates in your diet (a common thing to do over the summer), your body will be able to better utilize those carbohydrates, directing them towards the muscle cells rather than the body fat cells, as was noted in a study published in the Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise journal.6
This helps keep you leaner as well since you’ll have a reduced rate of converting those carbohydrates into body fat stores.
It appears the primary reason for this is due to the increased lean muscle tissue development, which then increases the insulin sensitivity level.
So as you can hopefully see, now (or ever) is NOT the time to forgo strength training. Strength training is the single most effective form of exercise for guaranteeing good health into the future and keeping you leading an active lifestyle for years to come.
All it takes is 2-3 sessions per week to see all these benefits, which leaves plenty of time to get outside and do all the other summertime activities that you want to do.
By making the commitment to stay consistent with your strength training workout throughout the summer months, you’ll also prevent having to go through the process of getting back into it come fall, which can prove to be quite frustrating if quite a significant amount of strength has been lost.
It’s much easier to stay in shape than it is to get in shape!