So you think you have to spend hours each day at the gym pumping iron to reap the benefits of strength training? Think again... with as little as one hour spent each week you can put your muscles to work and gain substantial benefits for both your short and long term health.
We all seem to lose energy and become more inactive as we age. Perhaps the loss of our childhood imagination and the exciting thrill in doing just about anything keeps us plopped on our couches more and more as the years go by. You might not realize this but if you remain physically inactive after the age of 30 you'll lose 3-5% of your muscle mass each decade and the corresponding muscle strength that goes with it. But we don't have to just "grow old" and "waste away" like it's some inevitable destination that we have no control over. I say we put a stop to that by changing a few simple habits and incorporating some strength training into our weekly routine. Why don't we take a glance now at why boosting those biceps is so important to our overall health.
Key Health Benefits to Maintaining Physical Strength
1) Prevention of Sarcopenia - Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle mass, strength, and coordination resulting from the process of aging. Research has shown that regular resistance training 2-3 times per week can result in a 50% or greater increase in overall strength even in the geriatric population. Resistance training also improves overall strength of younger and middle aged individuals as well as the elderly population for those who participate in as little as two 20 minute sessions per week.
2) Improves Diabetes - Resistance training has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity & improve glucose tolerance along with increasing fat-free muscle mass & reducing adipose (fat) tissue in individuals leading to an improvement in their diabetes.
3) Increases Cardiovascular Health - An improvement in good cholesterol and reduction in high blood pressure has been seen in people who have participated in a weight lifting program. Strength training has also been shown to improve cardiac output, peak oxygen uptake, and stroke volume in those who had previously underwent open heart surgery.
4) Prevents Bone Loss - High-intensity resistance training programs were shown to significantly increase bone mineral density among postmenopausal women which is an important factor in reducing the overall risk of osteoporosis.
5) Additional Health Improvements - Resistance training has also been shown to benefit many other health conditions including improving depression, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, increasing mobility in Parkinson's disease, reducing rates of metabolic syndrome, and even reduces the prevalence of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
So now that you've seen the overwhelming evidence on the health benefits of strength training you might be asking yourself - How do I get started?
If you're new to all of this then don't worry it's really not as bad as you think. I'll give you some simple tips below to make your workout successful! With this in mind though, it is always best to get your doctor's approval before starting an exercise program. Now let's get down to it! Here's 5 tips to perfecting your workout.
5 Tips To A Successful Strength Training Program
1) Use Proper Technique - Learning and implementing the proper technique when it comes to strength training are key in reducing the risk of injury. You may want to enlist the help of a personal trainer for your first few sessions to get started on the right path.
2) Use Multiple Ways To Workout - While having access to a gym is great especially with all the different weight lifting equipment you can also get an effective workout at home. Try using therapy bands, therapy balls, or even your own body weight to accomplish the job. Dumbbells work more muscle groups and build your coordination better than machine weights do. Push ups are also an excellent way to workout a variety of different muscle groups.
3) Repetition, Repetition, Repetition - You can increase your muscle strength in the short term by doing a single set of 12-15 repetitions for each exercise. However, a review of 72 studies shows that doing multiple sets of repetitions leads to optimal strength gain over the long term in most individuals.
4) Begin Slowly - You don't have to perform like an olympic weightlifter on day 1 to get to where you want to be. Make sure you start with smaller amounts of weights and work your way up slowly over time. Remember if your injured you won't be strength training at all so be smart!
5) Rest Up - Make sure and give each set of muscle groups at least one day of rest in order to recover properly. If you want you can work legs one day then switch to arms and shoulders the next day and finish the third day with the chest and back. Training 2-3 days per week for an average of 20-30 minutes is enough to get the health benefits talked about in the beginning of this article.
Now that you've got a basic understanding of strength and resistance training what are you waiting for?! Get started today and your body and brain will thank you for years to come.
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