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Strength Training: Your Anti-Inflammatory Superpower

Posted on June 23, 2023 by Iliana Stoilova

Inflammation has long been recognized as a root cause of various chronic diseases. While certain types of fat can contribute to inflammatory secretions, there is a way to combat this health risk: strength training. Not only does strength training help inhibit chronic inflammation through the release of anti-inflammatory myokines, but it also targets deep fat deposits that serve as potent sources of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Let’s explore the benefits of strength training in reducing inflammation and its profound impact on overall health and well-being.

The Link Between Inflammation and Fat:

It is crucial to distinguish between different types of fat when considering their impact on inflammation. While subcutaneous fat found just beneath the skin may provide some protective effects against chronic disease, deep fat deposits—such as those in the liver, skeletal muscles, and viscera—can trigger the release of cytokines, the signaling molecules that promote inflammation. The implications of excessive inflammation are evident in severe cases like cytokine storms experienced by some Covid-19 patients, where the body’s immune response goes awry and attacks its own cells.

Strength Training: An Effective Anti-Inflammatory Strategy:

One of the most remarkable benefits of strength training lies in its ability to inhibit chronic inflammation through the release of myokines. Myokines are a class of cytokines secreted by active muscles during exercise. By engaging in regular strength training sessions, individuals can experience a reduction in chronic inflammation on a systemic level.

Targeting Deep Fat: A Dual Benefit:

Strength training not only influences inflammation by inhibiting the release of cytokines but also by targeting the source itself. Research indicates that strength training can effectively decrease deep fat deposits, particularly those surrounding the viscera. For instance, a study conducted on older women engaging in three weekly sessions of resistance training for 25 weeks demonstrated a significant reduction in visceral fat while simultaneously increasing their maximum lifting capacity by an impressive 38%.

Managing Abdominal Fat and Insulin Resistance:

In older men with type 2 diabetes, abdominal fat is closely associated with insulin resistance. A study focusing on this demographic revealed promising results. After 16 weeks of progressive strength training sessions conducted twice a week, the participants experienced significant decreases in abdominal fat. Interestingly, despite no significant change in body mass, the reduction in visceral fat was accompanied by muscle gain. This demonstrates the dual benefit of strength training: a decrease in inflammation-inducing tissues and an increase in inflammation-inhibiting tissues, known as myokines.

The Comprehensive Impact on Health:

The evidence overwhelmingly supports the notion that strength training can significantly reduce chronic, systemic inflammation, mitigating the associated health risks. By incorporating strength training into our lives, we not only target the root causes of inflammation but also reap additional benefits such as improved insulin sensitivity, increased muscle mass, enhanced metabolic function, and enhanced overall physical performance.

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