American Heart Month – Tackling Strength Training


American Heart Month – Tackling Strength Training

We talked last time about cardio – ways to get your heart beating faster. For many, this is what they think of when we talk about exercise. However, strength training is also an important part of staying healthy.

Current recommendations include activities to strengthen your muscles at least two days a week. Lean muscle mass (unfortunately) tends to diminish with age – but it’s never too late to start working on getting stronger! In fact, a recent study showed that older adults who engaged in lifting weights between two to six times a week had a lower risk of death than those who did less than two times a week. Weight lifting also has multiple beneficial effects on building stronger bones and reducing the risk of falls.

Strength training should target all the major muscle groups, including:

  • Legs
  • Hips
  • Back
  • Chest
  • Abdomen
  • Shoulders
  • Arms

Contrary to belief, weight training doesn’t have to involve giant weights or even going to the gym at all. Body weight exercises such as squats, lunges, and pushups are very effective, as are exercises using resistance bands. A good approach is to find a weight where you reach the point of fatigue – where you cannot do another repetition – after about 12-15 repetitions. If you have never done any strength training and don’t know where to begin, working with a physical therapist or personal trainer, or attending a fitness class might be a good place to start – so you can learn the proper form and how to avoid injuries, and tips on how to make strength training a regular part of your routine.

Dr. Elizabeth Cilenti

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