We all know regular exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Exercise can be in many forms, including walking, biking, swimming, weight training, and yoga.
Cardiovascular exercise benefits your heart and lungs. Examples include walking, biking, swimming, and using an elliptical machine or stair climber. Swimming is an excellent low-impact option if you have pain issues or mobility problems.
“Most people include cardio when starting an exercise routine, but often forget about the importance of strength training,” says Andrew Purdy, an exercise physiologist with Kettering Weight Loss Solutions, part of Kettering Health Network. “Some people are intimidated by the thought of lifting weights, but it is not as difficult as it seems.”
Strength training is a vital component of any exercise routine. Why? It improves strength, makes daily activities easier, helps reduce body fat, maintains muscle mass, and burns calories.
“If you are following a weight loss program,” Purdy explains, “regular strength training will help you maintain muscle as you lose weight, which will help you keep the weight off long-term. If you lose weight with no strength training, you are likely to lose muscle mass in the process. If you lose muscle mass, your metabolism will slow down. If your metabolism slows, it will be more difficult to maintain weight loss.”
As we age over time, our bodies lose muscle mass. We can fight that muscle loss by following a regular strength training routine and maintaining or even increasing your muscle mass. Because a higher muscle mass can increase your metabolism, strength training can help you burn calories even when you are not exercising.
As our strength and fitness improves, we are at reduced risk for falls and injuries from falls. If our body is used to regular strength movements – pushing, pulling, squatting, bending, and carrying – we will have better balance and mobility.
This training can also help reduce back pain by improving core strength through regular exercise.
So, how do you incorporate strength training into your weekly routine? You can do this at home or join a gym. You can use a variety of equipment – dumbbells, barbells, weight machines, resistance bands, kettle bells, even soup cans at home.
Before you start any strength training:
- Always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program
- Try to strength train 2-3 times a week, focusing on your major muscle groups – chest, shoulders, back, arms, core, and legs
- Aim for 3 sets of 10 repetitions for each exercise
- How much weight should you use? Start light, and work your way up slowly
- If you can lift a weight more than 12-15 repetitions, it’s time to increase the weight