Posted September 09, 2021 by Charles A. Zonfa, MD, FACOG | Chief Medical Office
As the saying goes, if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. Strength training is a safe and effective way to keep muscles and bones strong.
As we age, hormonal changes lead to a decline in muscle mass. We also tend to lose more bone mass than our bodies form — and the rate at which we lose bone mass speeds up once we hit middle age.
But, you don’t have to be a weightlifter or pro athlete to see real results.
In addition to aerobic activity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend adults include strength training at least twice weekly to build and maintain muscle mass. Aim for 20- to 30-minute strength training sessions and exercises should target all your major muscle groups: legs, back, abs, chest, shoulders and arms.
Lifting weights, using resistance bands or doing bodyweight exercises, such as lunges, pushups and squats, are all great ways to build muscle. Simply getting up and moving on a regular basis to walk, run or swim, for instance, will also build muscle.
In just a few short months, you should see real results, but the benefits go well beyond simply toning and defining your muscles. SummaCare offers 4 strong reasons why building and maintaining muscle mass is an important component of overall health and fitness.
In addition, lifting weights helps to lubricate and protect the joints, giving them more flexibility. Plus, when you have strong muscles, pressure gets shifted from your joints to your muscles.
Before starting a strength training routine, it’s always a good idea to consult your doctor. Once you get the green light, you may want to begin with a fitness professional to ensure proper form to reduce the risk of injury.
To start, choose a weight or resistance level that is heavy enough to work your muscles to fatigue after 12 to 15 repetitions. You know you’re doing enough to gain health benefits when your muscles are so tired you can barely do one more repetition without help.
Start slowly and gradually increase your resistance or weight as the exercises become easier. Just be sure to rest a full day between strength training exercises in order to give your muscles time to recover and rebuild muscle tissue.
You’re never too old to start building strength, and it doesn’t mean you have to spend hours at the gym to make it happen. So, pick up those weights and start enjoying the abundant health benefits you’ll get from incorporating strength training into your weekly exercise routine.