The best reasons to strength train

Published On: Jan 17 2013 02:38:25 PM CST   Updated On: Jan 31 2013 03:17:34 PM CST

By Barbara Floria, Pure Matters

First the bad news: Muscle mass naturally decreases with age. If you don’t do anything to replace the muscle you lose, you’ll add fat.

Now the good news: Strength training can help you preserve and enhance your muscle mass, countering weight gain and adding other benefits.

“After age 30, adults lose 2 percent of their muscle mass each decade," says Edward Laskowski, M.D. He's a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and codirector of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center. "Although aerobic workouts like walking or running are important, they can’t take the place of strength training when it comes to building and preserving muscle.”

These are other pluses of strength training:

Consider your options

Health clubs and fitness centers offer various resistance machines, free weights, and other tools for strength training. But you don’t have to buy a club membership or an expensive home gym to reap the benefits of strength training.

“Many people like the support of working in a gym setting with other people, but if you’d rather be on your own, you can do an effective workout with handheld weights or resistance bands at home,” says Dr. Laskowski.

Get help

In the beginning, it’s wise to work with a weight-training specialist, such as an athletic trainer or physical therapist.

“After you’ve got your technique down, you can work on your own as long as you check in with your trainer every few months,” Dr. Laskowski says.

Be safe

These guidelines can keep you safe and on track with your weight-training program:

“There are so many benefits to strength training,” says Dr. Laskowski. “Making it a part of your routine is one of the best things you can do for physical and emotional well-being.”