Regular exercise is vital to health at any age, but it’s especially important as we get older and become more prone to joint and muscle injuries. Often, when people think of exercise, the first thing that comes to mind is aerobic training such as walking, running or cycling. While cardio exercise should be part of your healthy lifestyle, strength training is incredibly beneficial for your body, beyond just improving muscle mass.

To maximize your fitness program, you should think of strength training as equally important as aerobic training. The two exercise routines benefit one another, and the end result will lead to a fitter, healthier you. Here are the top four reasons you should incorporate strength training into your fitness plan.

You’ll maintain muscle mass and strength

As early as our mid to late twenties, we begin to slowly lose muscle mass, and once we enter our sixties, the rate of muscle loss increases significantly. While strength training doesn’t stop muscle loss as we age, it can help slow the process. Additionally, because strength training helps maintain muscle mass, it can enhance the rest of your fitness routine. Having stronger muscles will improve your performance when you cycle, swim, walk or run.

It doesn’t take much time

Strength training can provide significant benefit in a relatively short period of time per session. Studies show that only two days per week for 15 to 20 minutes per session can provide enough muscle stimulation to improve strength and balance in adult women. And you don’t have to power lift heavy loads to reap the benefits. As long as you exercise the major muscle groups several times per week and increase weight over time, you’ll see results. In fact, most people can see (and feel) the benefits with only six to ten sessions!

You’ll reduce your risk of injuries and fatigue

Our joints play a key role as our bones and muscles work together to support and move our bodies. As we age, however, joints can become weak, stiff and sore. Weak joints are more vulnerable to injury from falls, twists or even lifting groceries. Muscular weakness is also linked to loss of balance, which can lead to injuries related to falls. Strength training will provide significant protection from injuries by improving balance and movement.

Strength training aids in weight loss

To lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit by burning calories with exercise; eating and drinking fewer calories or, preferably, doing both. But as we lose weight, we can experience loss of muscle mass, as well. It’s important to balance weight loss, especially losing large amounts of weight quickly, with strength training to maintain muscle. If you have lost weight, strength training may help prevent weakness as well as reshape your body by adding firm muscle.

A healthy diet and quality sleep are key components of a successful strength training program. Proper nutrition and sleep aid the body in recovery and growth of muscle tissue.

Strength training helps you feel good about yourself

Not only do you get to enjoy seeing your body tone up as your get stronger, but you get to enjoy the exercise endorphins that get you there. Plus, in our community of women, you get to have fun and enjoy the beautiful nature of San Diego parks.

See for yourself with a free trial.

Question: What changes have you seen in your body as a result of strength training?