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The truth about weight training

Fit to Farm: When done properly it can be a very effective exercise routine

Weight training — when done intelligently for each individual — is just as effective as other types of exercise in improving health.

“At your age, should you really be lifting weights?”
“Isn’t weight training dangerous for your joints? Does that really help you feel better?”
“Aren’t you worried about getting injured again?”
“I heard that weight training is bad for you — doesn’t it cause arthritis?”

These are some things my clients have heard when their peers/families/friends find out they are participating in an exercise-based program with me.

Answers to some of those myths and others are:

1. Weight training does not cause arthritis.
2. Weight training will not make women bulky.
3. Weight training is highly effective for arthritis rehabilitation and management, when it is done correctly. Poorly designed exercise programs and poor form will exacerbate the symptoms of arthritis, instead of helping. The guidance of an educated exercise-based professional eliminates this risk.
4. Weights are just as beneficial if not more beneficial when the goal is weight loss and metabolic improvements in populations at risk for obesity and diabetes.

Would I tell someone of any age to just go and start lifting weights (no matter how much)? Absolutely not. Do I prescribe and coach programs for all ages (yes, all the way up to 90-somethings) that involve various amounts of loaded movements, functional movements, dynamic movements, and stability training? You bet I do!

The body works on an adaptation-based system. This means — in order to improve our systems — we have to stress our systems.

Here’s the feedback I get from my dedicated clients:

“I don’t wake up at 3 a.m. anymore with back pain.”

“I sleep through the night and don’t wake up stiff in the mornings anymore.”

“I don’t get tired during the day.”

“My joints aren’t bugging me as much since I started training.”

“I’m making healthier choices elsewhere in my life since starting this training routine.”


When we apply healthy stress to our system, things change for the better. We also develop a higher tolerance for negative stressors, which means we function at a higher efficiency longer term. It’s widely acknowledged now that the mind and the body are one co-ordinating unit. Exercise — movement of any kind — is the most effective medicine, and statistics support this.

According to the Conference Board of Canada, if we were to decrease the number of inactive Canadians by even 10 per cent, we’d see a 30 per cent reduction in all-cause mortality and major savings in health care. It is estimated that more than $2.4 billion, or 3.7 per cent of all health-care costs, were attributed to the direct cost of treating illness and disease due to physical inactivity. The financial impact of poor health amounts to a loss of more than $4.3 billion to the Canadian economy, and the negative repercussions of inactivity cost the health-care system $89 billion per year in Canada.

According to several studies, properly structured and supported exercise programs, designed and delivered by a professional can, among other benefits:

  • Reduce the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease by 40 per cent;
  • Reduce the incidence of Type 2 diabetes by 50 per cent and be twice as effective as standard insulin in treating the condition;
  • Help the function of muscles for people affected by Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis;
  • Decrease depression as effectively as pharmacological or behavioural therapy;
  • Reduce the risk of stroke by 27 per cent;
  • Reduce the risk of colon cancer by 60 per cent;
  • Reduce mortality and risk of recurrent cancer by 50 per cent.

Weight training — when done intelligently for each individual — is just as effective as other types of exercise in improving health. It has its own set of extra benefits and of course risk factors. Just like that Tylenol you like to pop for your back pain.

There is no one way to utilize the benefits of movement. Some people like to do yoga, some like to do step classes, and others just like to go for regular walks and stretch.

Adding appropriate weight training into your routine comes with vast benefits to your health. The key factors are ensuring that you have a program and guidance that is suited to you, as an individual, and you are applying it as a positive stressor to a body. Exercise, like many other things, is a prescription. It must come with appropriate and guided use!

About the author


Kathlyn Hossack runs a clinical practice, Integrative Movement in Winnipeg, Manitoba and consults clients throughout Alberta on a regular basis. For questions or consultations email her at [email protected].

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