There’s Strength in Numbers

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Ask anyone over 35 or 40 and they will tell you that both their metabolism and their energy have declined significantly since their teens and twenties. It is a fact of life that both will continue to decline with each passing decade. However, there is an antidote to both—exercise, in the form of both aerobics (such as brisk walking) and strength or resistance training.

The real problem that contributes to these declines is the loss of vital muscle mass. In general, Americans lose five pounds of muscle and gain 10 pounds of fat with each decade. Reversing this trend is of the utmost importance if we are to stave off the degenerative conditions associated with aging. Aerobic exercise lowers blood glucoses, thereby preventing decreased muscle mass. Regular aerobic exercise, such as the walking described above, will increase energy and stamina, and decrease weight gain and the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.

When it comes to building muscle mass, strength or resistance training has no peer. Both aerobic exercise and strength training improve glucose metabolism and help maintain healthy blood-sugar levels. But strength training has an added benefit: an increase in bone density that helps ward off osteoporosis.

The Center for Disease Control is an important resource for anyone wishing to start a strength-training program (www.cdc.gov). Not only does it have extensive information on the topic, it also has an interactive program that is easy to follow. It reports that research has shown that strengthening exercises are both safe and effective for women and men of all ages, including those who are not in perfect health. In fact, people with health concerns—including heart disease or arthritis—often benefit the most from an exercise program that includes lifting weights a few times each week. Not only that, nothing firms the body like strength training.

Do you engage in regular strength training as part of your core exercise regime?

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