The year 1970 shaped how virtually all of us think about exercise today.
In 1970, Arnold Schwarzenegger won his first of seven Mr. Olympia competitions and taught us that if you pump iron, you will develop massive pecs and peaked biceps. Arthur Jones, the founder of Nautilus Sports Medical created and sold his first Nautilus machine soon after; his target market at the time was body builders and NFL franchises. Don Shula, the legendary head football coach of the Miami Dolphins ordered a full line of Nautilus machines for his Super Bowl winning Dolphins to train on (and the rest of the NFL soon followed). In 1970, we learned that strength training was for building big muscles and football players.
Meanwhile in 1970, Kenneth Cooper, a physician outside of Dallas, Texas writes a ground-breaking book, “The New Aerobics” and tells the American public that if we go on a jog, bike ride, or a brisk walk we will effectively ward off cardiovascular disease and live longer, healthier lives. In September of that same year, a mere 55 people ran the inaugural New York City marathon (while an estimated 100 spectators cheering them on). This weekend, after 48 years of heeding Dr. Cooper’s advice, 50,000 people will run the New York City Marathon and it promises to be the largest, live spectator sporting event in the world.
The events of 1970 resulted in an unintentional issue of… branding. Arnold, Arthur Jones, and Don Shula branded strength training as “muscles and football.” Dr. Cooper brilliantly branded aerobic exercise as “health.” These identities have persisted for nearly five decades despite a significant shift in our understanding of the actual benefits of these two modalities of exercise.
A new paradigm suggests that strength training or “resistance exercise” stimulates a host of health benefits that are still largely ignored (and supersede the health benefits stimulated by aerobic exercise). Collectively, this research suggests that the primary “why” behind our strength training should be: To become healthier.
The oft over-looked health benefits of resistance training include:
- Lower abdominal fat.
- Improved cardiovascular health.
- Reduced resting blood pressure.
- Controlled blood sugar levels.
- Reduced cancer risk.
- Lowered injury risks.
- Strengthened mental health.
- Improved flexibility and mobility.
- Elevated body image.
- Osteoporosis prevention and management.
- Boosted brain health.
- A longer lifespan.
Note: This list is adapted from a US News article. I encourage you to read more on each health related benefit.