Strength training exercises
Just about every movement we do, from walking up stairs, to carrying groceries, to picking up our children or grandchildren, requires some strength. Wouldn’t it be nice if those activities got a little bit easier?
Our muscles support us and if we take just a little time to give them a boost, it can really pay off.
That’s why regular strength training, also called resistance training, is always included in physical activity recommendations. Strength training is different from aerobic exercises like running or cycling, which focus on strengthening your heart and lungs. Strength training helps make your muscles stronger.
Your strength can have a big impact on your quality of life. It can keep injuries and aches at bay. But where do you start?
How to start strength training
All you need for effective strength training is to create some resistance so your muscles work a bit harder than usual. The best way to begin is a strength training routine that uses your own body weight. No need to buy weights or take a trip to the gym.
“I like to get people going with a series of simple exercises to get them feeling stronger for the movements that they perform every day,” says Evan Thoman, a wellness specialist at MD Anderson.
Doing this simple routine twice a week would put you well on your way to building a stronger body, which has many benefits.
It's a use it or lose it situation.
The benefits of strength training
Strength training boosts your metabolism. Muscles burn calories at a higher rate than body fat, even when you are not exercising. This means you are turning food into energy more quickly, and growing and rebuilding cells more effectively. It also makes it easier to lose weight.
Strength training reduces your risk for disease by helping you stay at a healthy weight. This includes the biggest causes of early death: cancer, heart disease and stroke. In general, the more fit you are, the better your chances of staying healthy.
Strength training helps you age gracefully and with less pain. If you don’t stay physically active as you age, your balance, energy level and mobility will decline. We all lose both muscle mass and bone density as we get older. Keeping your body strong helps you maintain your quality of life by reducing your chances for injury and bone loss.
“It’s a use it or lose it situation,” says Thoman.
Talk to your doctor if you have health issues
As with any exercise regimen, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting. This is particularly true if you have old injuries, are overweight or have heart problems.
To reduce your cancer risk, aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week. Try to do a strength-training routine at least twice a week.
Add a plant-based diet, and you are well on your way to reducing your cancer risk.