Strengthening exercises work muscles as they move against resistance. This resistance can come from workout machines, free weights or barbells, elastic bands, water, stairs, hills, cans of vegetables from the pantry -- even your own body weight as you do a pushup.
For example, walking on a treadmill (which is aerobic exercise) becomes strengthening as you raise the incline of the treadmill.
Strengthening or resistance exercises help keep your muscles that support your back, abdomen, knees, chest, shoulders, neck, and wrists strong and less likely to get injured. Strong muscles mean greater endurance and energy, a faster metabolism (which burns more calories), and better posture.
Benefits of Strengthening Exercises
Just as aerobic exercise keeps your heart in peak condition, regular strengthening exercises help keep your other muscles strong and healthy.
For example, your lower back and abdominal muscles stabilize the spine, allow proper spinal movement, and help with posture.
Strengthening hip and leg muscles is also important, so you can safely lift objects from the floor using your leg muscles rather than those in your back.
Strengthening exercises also build muscle mass. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn all day.
Strengthening exercises lower blood pressure and help cholesterol levels, and help make your bones stronger.
The trunk and its associated muscles make up the core. The extremities are the arms, forearms, hands, thighs, legs, ankles/feet. Strong core muscles provide a foundation for the extremities to attach to and work more efficiently. It is hypothesized that a weak core can cause excessive stress on the extremity muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints. Core strengthening is a multi-joint exercise, involving larger muscle groups such as the chest, back, abdominals, back, hip/thigh, and shoulder blade muscles. Core strengthening is often incorporated as part of a low back or neck rehabilitation program. Because recovery or enhancement of core strength provides a stable base for the extremities, it is also commonly part of an arm, forearm, thigh, leg or ankle program.