Do Light Weights Really Make A Difference?

Weight lifting is widely accepted as a vital key to healthy training and lifestyle, but do light weights really make a difference?  Author Karen Hellesvig-Gaskell for Livestrong.com highlights some of the benefits that even just light weights can bring to your training: Overview A light weight lifting or strength training routine is designed to tone muscles and help slow age-related muscle loss rather than beef up muscles.Training with light weights can improve your basal metabolic rate, which helps burn calories more efficiently. Regular strength training has a number of other potential physical and mental benefits.  Considerations Exercises with light weights are typically performed with a higher number of repetitions and sets, which aims to improve muscle shaping and endurance. Heavier weights, in contrast, normally involve shorter number of repetitions and sets to help increase muscle size and strength. Light weight lifting can be performed with free weights, dumbbells and various types of lightweight tubing that will provide resistance when stretched.  Disease Management/Injury Prevention Strength training along with aerobic exercise can help you manage, and in some cases prevent, conditions like heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and osteoporosis, Harvard Health Publications reports. Strength training places stress on the bones, which can increase bone density and lower the risk of osteoporosis and decrease the likelihood of bone fractures in the elderly. Strength training also helps protect joints from injury and contributes to better balance, which can help you maintain independence as you age.  Mental Health Weight lifting may enhance emotional well-being, the Mayo Clinic notes. A study published in 2007 in "Women and Health" by T.B. Adams and colleagues at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions, Gilbert, Arizona, found that "strength training exercise was positively associated with perceived health and modestly negatively associated with depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation." The study involved a national sample of college females during the Spring 2002 and 2003 semesters. The authors noted, however, that further research is needed to endorse strength training and aerobic exercise as a treatment for mental disorders. Strength training also may improve mental clarity and a sense of independence in older adults, the Cleveland Clinic reports. Recommendations You may reap the many potential benefits of light weight lifting with two or three 20- to 30-minute training sessions a week, according to the Mayo Clinic. At least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity such as brisk walking or swimming should accompany a strength training routine. Talk to your health care provider before starting a new workout regime especially if you have been sedentary. To read the complete article and learn more about weight lifting, visit Livestrong.com.