Posts Tagged ‘progressive resistance’

Weight Training for Whole Health

In the April 2011 issue of American Legion magazine, I wrote about how a well-rounded physical activity program that combines strength training with aerobic activity is good for your heart and overall health.

Strength training gets results fast – do it twice a week for a few weeks and you’ll start to see and feel your body change, compared with three times a week with aerobics.

Working out with weights can also reduce your blood pressure, improve your insulin sensitivity, protect you against bone loss, and reduce your risk of falls. And your quality of life will improve and you will be able to live independently for longer.

You can increase your strength by 25-30% and put on nearly 2.5 pounds of muscle in just 18-20 weeks of progressive resistance training, according to a new study on resistance training for aging adults by University of Michigan researchers published in The American Journal of Medicine.

“Resistance exercise is a great way to increase lean muscle tissue and strength capacity so that people can function more readily in daily life,” says Mark Peterson, Ph.D., a research fellow in the University of Michigan Physical Activity and Exercise Intervention Research Laboratory at the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Progressive resistance training means that the amount of weight used, and the frequency and duration of training sessions, is altered over time to accommodate your improvement. You need to increase the resistance and intensity of your training to continue building muscle mass and strength.

Peterson says that anyone over age 50 should strongly consider participating in resistance exercise. To start out, particularly if you are relatively sedentary, he recommends beginning with exercises that use your own body weight, such as squats, modified push-ups, and lying hip bridges, as well as non-traditional exercises that progress through a full range of motion, such as Tai Chi, Pilates, or Yoga.

In the American Legion article, I mention that to maintain your health, exercise guidelines suggest you do two days of strength training each week in addition to moderate aerobic activity for 30 minutes, five days a week.

A regular regimen of 8-10 resistance exercises using the major muscle groups on two non-consecutive days allows time for your muscles to adapt, which reduces the potential for excessive muscle soreness and injury.

Kerry Stewart, Ed.D., Director of Clinical/Research Exercise Physiology at Johns Hopkins University, told me once you start lifting weights, you will gain self-confidence and be able – and want – to do even more.