2 Boosted brain health
Strength training can improve brain power across a lifetime, but the effects are perhaps the strongest in older adults suffering from cognitive decline. In one 2016 study in the Journal of American Geriatrics, when men and women ages 55 through 86 with mild impairment performed twice-weekly weight training for six months, they significantly improved their scores on cognitive tests. However, when participants spent their workouts stretching, their cognitive test scores declined.
The key might be getting the blood flowing, Rebold says, noting that high-intensity strength training increases the flow of blood, oxygen and other nutrients to the brain. In the study, adults lifted 80 percent of their 1RM, or the maximum amount of weight they could lift for one rep. That roughly equates to the amount of weight they could lift for eight reps without breaking form.
3 Reduces the risk of osteoporosis by building bone mass
Strength training is effective in increasing bone density and strengthening tendons and ligaments. Developing strong bones reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis and decreases the risk of bone fractures.
Strong bodies have strong bones, with strength training significantly increasing bone mineral density, Rivadeneyra says. He explains that any weight-bearing exercise in which you’re standing and gravity is pulling down on your body lightly stresses and strengthens the bones and muscles. Plus, every time a muscle contracts, it pulls on the bones it’s attached to, which stimulates the cells within the bone to produce structural proteins and move minerals into the bone, he says.
So, for the greatest results, prioritize standing weight-bearing, strength training moves such as squats and lunges. In a 2014 Journal of Family and Community Medicine study, just 12 weeks of strength training with squats increased lower spine and femur (thigh) bone mineral density by 2.9 and 4.9 percent, respectively.