Strength training offers many health benefits

Strength or weight lifting, incorporated with aerobic activity, can help increase muscle strength, maintain bone integrity and improve balance, coordination and mobility.

What do you visualize when you think of weightlifting? Do you see a muscle-bound athlete with tan skin flexing his or her muscles in front of a panel of judges or cameras?

Actually weightlifting, or strength training as some refer to it, is a form of exercise that has many health benefits. Weight training not only helps shape and tone the body, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), research shows that this type of exercise also increases muscle strength, maintains bone integrity and improves balance, coordination and mobility.

Strength training may also help in reducing or preventing many diseases and chronic conditions including obesity, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, cancer, depression, osteoporosis, lung deficiencies, Parkinson’s disease, arthritis and fibromyalgia.

Aerobic exercise, which includes walking, jogging or swimming, is excellent for heart and lung maintenance as well as for increasing cardiovascular fitness and endurance. However, aerobic exercises do little to help keep your muscles strong. Lifting weights 20 to 30 minutes, just two to three times a week, can significantly build and improve both muscle mass and bone density.

So where do you start? If you are an older adult or have a chronic health condition, you should always refer to a doctor for recommendations associated with weightlifting. It’s also important to remember that weight training is only beneficial if done properly. Injuries such as sprains, strains and fractures can occur, so consider working with someone who is trained to help you learn:

  • Proper technique
  • Effective use of lifting repetitions
  • How to choose the proper weight
  • When to progress to higher weights
  • Appropriate time periods for muscle recovery and rest

For more information on physical activity, check out these websites:

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