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By now you should know the drill. In order to lose weight and tone up, you need to combine cardiovascular exercise 5-6 days/week for an hour along with a sensible diet and strength training sessions two times/week. If you’re hesitant to begin a strength training regimen, here’s some valuable benefits that you will receive. And while this article is geared more toward older adults, the same benefits will be realized in all adults.

The Center for Disease Control extols the benefits of resistance exercise, particularly as you grow older. Science tells us that conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, obesity, back pain and depression are significantly reduced through the effects of regular strength training. Studies have shown that older adults age 50+ who engage in strength training achieve a 43% reduction in pain, along with increases in strength and performance.

Balance is improved through resistance exercise, and a routine of strength training two to three times per week has been shown to lower the risk of falls by 40%. For post-menopausal women, bone mass decreases 1 to 2% per year, and weight training will improve bone density enough to counter that loss. Glucose control, mood, and sleep are all improved through strength training.

Even your heart benefits from resistance exercise, since it leads to leaner body composition…and therefore a decrease in heart disease, as well as increased aerobic capacity. As we age, our bodies are less able to crease new muscle tissue. Sarcopenia is age-related loss of muscle, and with it comes a reduction in the ability to do functional everyday activities. When you lose weight, you inevitably lose muscle mass as well as fat. By doing strength training exercises, you can reduce the amount of lean muscle tissue that you lose during weight loss. For those maintaining a stable weight, strength training reduces the age-associated loss of muscle tissue. In addition, strength exercise programs can be a significant help in maintaining our metabolic rate (which normally declines with age and with weight loss).

Increase Your Resistance

Studies show that if resistance is gradually increased, lean muscle mass will increase more than if resistance remains the same. In other words, if you continue to lift with the same amount of weight, you will not increase mass as much as if you continually increase the weight or resistance. When you get to a point where you’re able to do more than 10-12 reps without taking a break, it’s time to increase the weight or resistance until you can only do 8-10 reps. Simply by increasing the resistance as you get stronger, you could hold on to up to 5% more of your lean body mass over the course of a decade.

How Do You Get Started?

With any physical activity, you should consult with your physician before beginning. If you’re new to strength training and are not sure of the proper exercises to perform for your different muscle groups, it is a good idea to invest in some sessions with a personal trainer. Not only will they show you the proper form to avoid possible injury or stress to your body, but they will show you how to maximize the results you achieve.