Friday, November 18, 2011

Strength Training Benefits – Why is Resistance Training Recommended?

Why Should People Lift Weights? ©Katrena
The CDC recommends that people participate in resistance training at least twice a week on non-consecutive days. These training sessions may be as short as 15 to 20 minutes and do not require heavy lifting in order to achieve positive results. Strength training should incorporate all major muscle groups including:
  • Legs and hips
  • Back and abdomen
  • Chest, shoulders, and arms
How to Add Resistance Exercises for a Well-rounded Fitness Routine ©Katrena
Examples of Resistance Exercises

People years ago often did strength training in normal everyday life. Try lifting a few hay bales and you'll quickly realize that physical strength can come from more places than the gym, but many adults benefit from a structured weight lifting program that targets all muscle groups.

Children will often naturally participate in activities to strengthen muscles when provided with opportunities and appropriate settings such as a playground and do not typically need a structured weight lifting program. Physical resistance training can be achieved in a wide variety of ways, such as:
  • Lifting free weights such as a barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell or girya
  • Utilizing weight machines designed to isolate specific muscles
  • Using bands, balls, blocks, straps, rings (Pilates magic circle), or other pieces of equipment to provide resistance
  • Practicing aqua resistance exercises in a swimming pool
  • Sports-focused resistance training, such as with golfing, gymnastics, or cycling
  • Play-focused activities, such as climbing a jungle gym and moving across monkey bars
  • Incorporating one's own body weight for resistance, such as performing push-ups or abdominal crunches
  • Positioning the body in certain ways such as in a yoga or Pilates class
Add Weight Lifting to Add Higher Quality of Life ©Katrena
Why Should People Do Resistance Exercises?

It is hard to continue a program for physical fitness without noticing and enjoying the benefits of those exercises. Although cardiovascular exercises may produce rapid benefits, the benefits of resistance training may be a bit more subtle for many people. It may be difficult to distinguish between the results of regular aerobic activity and strength training because many of the benefits overlap. A consistent strength training program combined with regular aerobic activity and a healthy diet can reap huge rewards down the road with prevention of many common health problems.

People who participate in resistance exercises on a regular basis may simply begin to enjoy life more fully with an improvement in functional strength. They may be able to get in and out of a car more easily as strength, range of movement, and flexibility improves. They might be more sure-footed and not experience a fall. Even if the person experiences a fall, she may recover more fully and more quickly if she is stronger and more physically fit.

Reap Rewards of Resistance Training! ©Katrena
Specific Benefits of Strength Training

According to the NIH and CDC, a few possible specific benefits of incorporating resistance training into one's fitness routine at least twice a week include:
  • Improve or maintain muscular strength, which can play a huge role in being able to function well while engaging in activities of daily living
  • Improve or maintain bone density, which can reduce the likelihood of developing or having progression of oseteoporosis
  • Decrease pain from arthritis, which may result in a decreased need for pain medications and improve quality of life
  • Improve balance and flexibility with a lessened chance for falls – one fall can have devastating results
  • Increase metabolic rate, resulting in better long-term weight control
  • Reduce blood sugar levels, which may decrease the incidence of or treatment needs for diabetes
  • Improve heart health as the body becomes leaner with a reduction in body fat and lowered blood pressure
  • Improve gastric emptying times, resulting in less constipation and other gastrointestinal issues
  • Reduce symptoms of depression as people who regularly participate in strength training tend to enjoy better self-esteem and higher self-confidence
  • Improve quality of sleep as people who lift weights regularly tend to be able to fall asleep faster, enjoy a deeper sleep, and tend to awaken less often at night
Resistance Training May Help Prevent Many Health Problems ©Katrena
Benefits of Strength Training

Although many people may resist the thought of adding a resistance component to their workouts, the benefits often outweigh the risks when incorporating appropriate moves and weights designed to strengthen all muscle groups. I've worked with a wide variety of ages in group exercise classes and have seen great benefits achieved as participants consistently combine aerobic activities and strength training each week.

Readers should check with a healthcare professional before adding or changing to ensure that the exercises are safe for specific health needs.

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