Sure, weight lifting will help you bulk up. But these added health benefits make us want to head to the squat rack sooner rather than later.

It’s no secret: People often do strengthening exercises because they want to look more toned, buffed, or ripped. But while strength training results in some alluring external perks, there are even better internal health benefits. Studies say that basic strengthening exercises are safe and super beneficial for the cardiovascular health of men and women of all ages, including those who are not in perfect health.

Weight lifting to better your insides? You better believe it. Not 100 percent sold on picking up the weights just yet?

Check out these other 4 lesser-known benefits of strength training:

1. Strong bones: Strong muscles and bones help minimize the risk of fracture due to osteoporosis. If we don’t do strengthening exercises, both women and men may lose bone mass at the rate of 1 percent per year after age 40. That’s a big deal when you consider that eight million women and two million men in the United States have osteoporosis.

2. Improved blood glucose: In a recent study, strength training produced dramatic improvements in glucose control that are comparable to taking diabetes medication, which is also important for general weight loss.

3. Disease prevention: The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends strength training for maintaining and improving heart health, and preventing heart disease. Studies also show that it can lower bad cholesterol levels, raise good cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure by as much as 20 percent.

4. Better your brain cells: Strength training may provide similar improvements in depression as anti-depressant medications. Aside from significantly reducing anxiety and tension, strength training also improves sleep quality. Plus, research has shown that older women doing strength-training exercises had improved cognitive function, scoring higher on tests of the brain processes responsible for planning and executing tasks.

So we know what you’re wondering: Does this mean we should all give up our cardio exercise routines? No, definitely not. Cardio exercise is essential for a healthy lifestyle. (Check out these 5 benefits of a cardio workout).

The good news? You don’t need to become a body builder to gain the many benefits that strength training provides. The American Heart Association recommends that healthy adults perform 8 to 10 strength training exercises (to work the whole body) twice per week. For each exercise, you should be using a weight that can be lifted at least eight times without struggling too hard. (For guidance, check out these 7 tips for weight-lifting newbies.)

So next time you walk past the weights section in a gym, do yourself a favor and stop to try one of the machines or pick up a set of dumbbells. If you have any doubts how to begin, speak to a trainer or health professional. The reality is that even the biggest bodybuilders had to start somewhere. Before long, you will start to reap not only external benefits but also the many internal benefits the result from strengthening exercises.


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