Every day when I leave my house, I see countless people out for a jog, a bike ride, or an intense walk, or doing some kind of aerobic activity. Inside the gym, there is rarely a treadmill, exercise bike, or elliptical that isn’t occupied. And this is great—people are out getting some aerobic exercise to increase their heart health, lower the risk of disease, and even potentially lose some weight.
But a vast majority of the people taking part in these activities might not be doing the best job they can—and they don’t even know it. Many are completely neglecting a very important part of a properly designed exercise program: resistance (or weight) training. Resistance training is an essential component to battling chronic diseases and living a longer, healthier life.
Resistance Training for Better Heart Health
The Federal Government recommends getting 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity. About 49% of women aged 25-64 report getting that much, while 53% of men the same age say they hit that requirement. Shifting focus to resistance training, we see that only 18% of women and 25% of men are weight training twice per week as per the government’s recommendations. Clearly most people are not reaping the health benefits of this kind of exercise.
Weight training can help keep your heart healthy and regulate blood sugar levels, but most importantly, it can protect you from the effects of osteoporosis and sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is likely the most overlooked health condition affecting the aging population, and resistance training is really the only way to fight back.
Avoid Sarcopenia with Resistance Training
Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle tissue, which happens naturally with age. As your muscle wears away, you put more stress on your bones, and they become more susceptible to breaks and fractures. Resistance training helps you maintain the muscle you already have and provides the opportunity to build even more. This can make your bones more resilient, improve balance, and prevent the symptoms of osteoporosis, a condition mostly associated with aging.
Now, walking into a gym can be intimidating, and quite frankly, people don’t necessarily get excited by counting how many times they can move something from point A to point B. But thankfully you have options.
No matter what your age is, you can perform resistance training at home, in the park, or as part of a group at your community center. There are boot camps, functional training classes, and home workouts available virtually everywhere, and there is no shortage of variety. Ideally, you want to do an entire body workout twice per week, but more is better.
Reap the Benefits of Resistance Training
In this time, you’ll begin to notice how much easier it is to carry your groceries, walk up and down the stairs, get off the toilet, and do all kinds of daily tasks. And as your strength grows, confidence is surely to follow.
Because injury is a risk with resistance exercise, working with a professional at the beginning is highly recommended to make sure you stay safe and execute movements properly. After a few weeks, you should know what you’re doing and be safe to exercise on your own.
It’s important to remember that you’re never too old to start working out, and it can only make you healthier. So, if you’re not doing any weight training, it might be time to start!
Source for Today’s Article
Hobson, K., “How Weight Training Can Help Women Stay Strong,” NPR, August 11, 2016; http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/08/11/488823061/how-weight-training-can-help-women-stay-strong, last accessed August 29, 2016.