– By Andrea M. Pampaloni, Ph.D.
Almost as quickly as it arrived, summer is passing by. By mid-August, more than 40 percent of students in the United States will be back in class. And while that may make for grumpy children, it does offer a bit more structure to everyone’s day. This is important because it allows you to carve out some time to take care of yourself. Exercise can be just the thing to enhance your physical and mental wellness.
While you’re creating your fitness plan, don’t forget about strength training. We’ve noted the value of walking and aerobic exercise as an important part of a weight loss plan. However, strength training also offers many benefits and can provide significant physical and mental health benefits.
If this sounds too much like becoming a weightlifter, don’t fear! There are many different types of strength training exercises and you don’t even need equipment for a lot of them. The goal of this type of exercise is to preserve and develop muscle mass. When people are consistently inactive they lose lean muscle and end up with more body fat. Strength training helps you keep your lean muscle and, after a while, it also increases your metabolism so you burn calories more efficiently.
When you do strength training you work each of your major muscle groups by using your own weight or additional weights to create resistance. To start, you might incorporate strength training two times a week, working on your arms and upper body one day and legs and lower body another day. Common types of exercises involve pushing and pulling motions such as squats and arm or leg lifts. Each exercise is generally repeated 12 or 15 times on each side.
Once you get underway with a program, you will see improvements to your strength. One day you might be exhausted after just a few arm stretches, but after a while you will find yourself able to do two sets of the same exercise and use small weights while you do it! Research had found that when people did different exercises during the commercial breaks while watching television after dinner, it improved the glucose readings for people with diabetes. In another study, 72 percent of people who did resistance training for four months were able to reduce their need or diabetic medications. That’s a pretty good incentive!
Start Slowly, Adapt and Develop
If this sounds intimidating, know that these exercises can be adapted to address different levels of strength, mobility and skill. Your doctor may have some recommendations, or there are loads of videos online. It is very important to start slowly to develop your strength and avoid injury. Also, since these exercises do not require a lot of equipment or space, they’re great to do at home, especially when the weather is too unpleasant for walking or being outdoors.
Adding strength training to a weight loss program that already includes walking or some other type off aerobic exercise offers the greatest likelihood of positive health benefits. This is particularly important for younger women to increase their bone density, which could have long term benefits in reducing risks associated with post-menopausal osteoporosis.
There is no time like the present to make life better for yourself! Start tonight during the commercial breaks while you’re watching TV and before you know it the laundry basket suddenly won’t seem so heavy and you’ll be playing a game of catch with the kids!
About the Author: Dr. Andrea Pampaloni has over 20 years of communication experience across corporate, academic, nonprofit and government sectors. She provides research and writing services on a range of business issues and industry-specific topics to prepare white papers, articles, proposals, presentations, technical content, and speaking points, as well as marketing-communications content such as blogs, website content, newsletters, news releases and award submissions. Dr. Pampaloni’s research findings have been presented at national and international conferences and published in peer-reviewed journals, and she is a ghostwriter for three books, a Forbes article, and several corporate blogs.