Weights are not just for getting ripped
You, the Speedo and the beach no longer come together in one sentence. So you may ask yourself why you need to lift weights or do other resistance training.
Your six-pack-ab days are over. But vanity ranks low on the list of reasons you should embrace this physical activity.
“Resistance training doesn’t just have favorable effects on muscle endurance and strength, but a very beneficial relationship to health factors and chronic disease such as coronary risk factors, obesity, osteoporosis, metabolism, cardiovascular functions and psychosocial well-being (these are just a few),” says Bertha Harley, BSN, RN, a Cardiac Rehabilitation Nurse at Winter Haven Hospital ’s Bostick Heart Center.
Exercises in which you use the force of your muscles against a resistance you’re not accustomed to moving, such as a free weight or your body during push-ups, are important for your health and your lifestyle, say experts.
“Long-term health and benefits [of resistance training] are the prevention and management of health factors and chronic diseases such as; low back pain, osteoporosis, obesity and weight control, diabetes mellitus, and improved physical function in frail and elderly persons, as well as in the prevention of and rehabilitation from orthopedic injuries,” Harley says.
She adds that resistance training basically works by breaking down muscle fibers — called catabolism, which in turn are quickly repaired by the body to help the muscles regenerate — anabolism — and grow stronger. Examples of these exercises for the major muscle groups include: chest press, shoulder press, triceps extension, biceps curl, pull-down, lower-back extension, abdominal crunch/curl-up, quadriceps extension or leg press, leg curls, and calf raise. In cardiac rehab training the front and back of major muscle groups is recommended.
Increasing your muscle strength is doable at any age — however, if you’re new to resistance exercise, start with a trainer who can teach you how to use gym equipment correctly.
“Always safety first,” Harley says. “The single greatest cause of musculoskeletal injury with resistance training is a previous injury. Never perform an activity that causes pain or may potentially cause injury to the participant. Bands are great for resistant training and machine weights because of their known resistance are also excellent for patients who have joint pain or discomfort and/or have limited range-of-motion. This allows patients to exercise pain-free and still attain a significant training effect.”
Current research and the American College of Sports Medicine recommend the inclusion of resistance training for healthy persons of all ages and many patients with chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease. Experts also advise that a person should consult their physician before beginning any new exercise routine.
story by BEV BENNETT