Viva la resistance

A growing body of research shows strength training to have an anti-ageing effect – and it has a whole lot of other benefits, too.

Words: Thomas Walker

No matter what your age, exercise is a vital factor in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. One form of exercise that reaps enormous benefits is strength or resistance training – any movement that requires the use of our muscles to oppose a resisting force. Generally, it should be undertaken every two or three days as part of a healthy lifestyle1

Why is strength training important?

The amount of lean muscle we naturally carry is largely affected by age and genetic factors; however, research shows that strength training can greatly improve it2

Studies show that people who undertake regular strength training report better quality of life, a less depressed mood, improved circulation, lower blood pressure and greater muscle strength, making everyday tasks much easier3

Improving the strength of muscles around the body’s joints increases joint efficiency and helps protect them from injury4. This is especially important for those who lead an active lifestyle. 

Health benefits  

A recent study links improved sleep quality with resistance training due to its stimulation of the growth hormone. This hormone helps to strengthen bones and repair muscles while we rest and is seen to promote a more reliable and restful sleep in the process5.

Resistance training increases fat-free mass and this change in body composition enhances fat loss6. Fundamentally, more muscle and less body fat results in an effective way to prevent and manage chronic disease.

Resistance training is also credited with improved pain outcomes for chronic lower back pain patients. Diabetics show improvements in glycaemic (blood glucose) control, and resistance training is viewed as a preventative action against developing diabetes7

Studies also show a healthy amount of lean muscle will reduce the onset of sarcopenia8, which contributes to our feeling ‘old’, so limiting its development by rejuvenating old muscle tissue with weight training can help keep our bodies feeling younger for longer. 

Locate an Accredited Exercise Physiologist
Locate an Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) by phoning the national Exercise & Sports Science Australia office on (07) 3856 5622, or by visiting their website at

If eligible, you can claim on visits to AEPs who are registered with Medicare Australia/DVA or WorkCover through a GP referral. Australian Unity recognises exercise physiology services and provides benefits for members who have Comprehensive Extras, Super Extras or LifeChoice Plus cover. 

References: 1 American College of Sports Medicine Position Stand on Progression Models in Resistance Training for Healthy Adults. Med Sci. Sports Exerc. Vol. 34, No. 2, 2002, pp. 364-380 2 Tarnopolsky M et al, (2007), Gene expression, fiber type, and strength are similar between left and right legs in older adults, Journals of Gerontology A: Biological Sciences & Medical Sciences, Oct;62(10):1088-1095, 3 Selig et al, (2004), Moderate-Intensity Resistance Exercise Training in Patients With Chronic Heart Failure Improves Strength, Endurance, Heart Rate Variability, and Forearm Blood Flow, Journal of Cardiac Failure Vol. 10 No. 1 4 Faigenbaum and Myer, (2010), Resistance training among young athletes: safety, efficacy and injury prevention effects. Br J Sports Med;44:56-63 doi:10.1136/ bjsm.2009.068098 5 Ferris et al, (2011), Resistance Training Improves Sleep Quality In Older Adults – A Pilot Study, Advances in Preventive Medicine, Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 984683, 7 pages doi:10.4061/2011/984683 6 Donnelly JE et al, (2004), American College of Sports Medicine Position Stand. Appropriate physical activity intervention strategies for weight loss and prevention of weight regain for adults. Journal of Cardiac Failure Vol. 10 No. 1 7 Kujala UM.(2009) Evidence for exercise therapy in the treatment of chronic disease. Br J Sports Med 43:550–555. doi:10.1136/ bjsm.2009.059808 8 Tarnopolsky M et al, (2007), Gene expression, fiber type, and strength are similar between left and right legs in older adults, Journals of Gerontology A: Biological Sciences & Medical Sciences, Oct;62(10):1088-1095, 

Information provided in this article is not medical advice and you should consult with your healthcare practitioner. Australian Unity accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of any of the opinions, advice, representations or information contained in this publication. Readers should rely on their own advice and enquiries in making decisions affecting their own health, wellbeing or interest.