Experts agree that weightlifting is probably the single most effective exercise you can do to improve your health and overall fitness.
Weightlifting for fitness raises your metabolism while it builds strength and self-confidence. Weightlifting can improve your game no matter what sport you are active in, and also improves cardio function and heart health when done properly. Weightlifting can even strengthen bones and lessen or prevent the symptoms associated with osteoporosis.
No matter whether you are big or small, short or tall, you can benefit from a good weightlifting program.
As we age our metabolism naturally slows down and we lose lean muscle mass as well as bone density. Loss of lean muscle mass leads to even slower metabolism, and this becomes a vicious cycle leading to an overweight existence, and sedentary lifestyle, which bring a whole host of other health problems.
Now, I am not saying that lifting weights and weight training can actually reverse the aging process, but it can be a way to break aging cycle, or perhaps "brake" it, and make you feel younger and more fit, and keep you fit at any age. Just ask Jack LaLanne, still going "strong" at 92 as this is written. Update: Unfortunately, Jack passed away in 2011 at age 96.
NOTE: Sadly, since this was originally written, Jack LaLanne did die. He will be missed by all in the health and fitness community.
One of the hardest parts of any exercise program, after getting started, of course, is maintaining the motivation to keep going. With weightlifting, it is
somewhat easier for many to stay motivated than with most other exercise. With weight training, you can see and feel the results in just a short time. Try it for only
a few weeks and you will start to see an almost immediate increase in your strength and stamina by as much as 20 to 40%. This can happen not only
at the gym, but suddenly all those grocery bags you carry home from the store, or your kids, are going to feel much lighter as well.
If I may digress for a moment and tell you about Morjorie Newlin. In her 70's, Morjorie was having trouble carrying the big
bags of cat litter she needed. So, she began weight training. In only a few months, whe was competing in Masters Level
bodybuilding competitions...in a bikini. Morjorie continued to compete into her 80's.
At any age, however, increased strength and power will improve any sport you are into. Stronger leg muscles will allow
you to run faster. A stronger upper body can help you hit a ball (golfball, baseball, whatever) harder or throw further. Weightlifting and strength training can also
help improve stamina overall, and stronger muscles and bones can take more of a pounding so lifting weights can help prevent other sports related injuries.
I am in my late 60's and frequently recommend weight training as a good form of senior exercise on my senior health blog. It helps keep bones and muscles strong, improves balance, and helps keep seniors active, healthy, and happy.
Of course weight training will help you look better as
well. In fact, many people start lifting only to improve their physique and
physical appearance. They do not even realize all of the other benefits you can get from sculpting a toned and defined body by weightlifting.
Some fitness experts argue that good cardio (aerobic) exercise is
better to improve cardio vascular health than weight training. However, some studies have proven that cardiac output increases during weightlifting. Each has its own benefits, and so, it is best
to combine weight training and cardio to get the most fat burning benefits.
Of course, we know that it is a physiological fact that the heart and lungs (cardiopulmonary and cardiovascular systems) support all muscle functions, so, when muscles are taxed during weightlifting, all the organs which make up this support system are also getting a workout. For this reason, most fitness experts suggest that you engage in an exercise program that includes some weight lifting, or other strength training, combined with cardio, for even a few days a week, for total overall good health and fitness.