Strength Training: Health Benefits for Every Age
By Western Berks Physical Therapy on February 27th, 2018
Most of us know that regular exercise provides many benefits. However, as we age, we lose muscle mass, bone density and strength. Strength training, also called resistance or weight training, can substantially slow or reduce these effects of aging.
Strength training is any exercise where muscles work and contract against an object. Push-ups, lifting weights and stretching with elastic bands are examples of resistance exercises. Strength training programs are based on what are called “reps” and “sets.” Repetitions, or reps, is the number of times you do an exercise. Sets is the number of cycles of reps. Beginners should start with weights that allow only 15 to 20 repetitions of a single exercise. After several weeks, when you can do these easily, slowly increase the amount of weight.
Increasing the amount of weight will increase strength, while staying at the same weight level will maintain that level of strength. The following tips can also help:
- Stretch and warm up before beginning your weight program.
- Drink fluids between sets.
- A little soreness is to be expected, but stop if you feel pain.
- Don’t work the same muscle groups on consecutive days.
- Rest 48 to 72 hours between workouts. Studies show that muscles build strength and grow as they recover.
With strength training, the benefits are both immediate and ongoing. Muscles respond quickly, which provides great motivation for continuing to exercise. Healthy adults should perform strength training 2 to 3 times per week. In addition to increasing strength, strength training can improve psychological well-being, improve sleep, and prevent osteoporosis, diabetes and obesity, as well as improve balance. Always check first with your doctor before beginning any weight training program. Then, contact us to develop a program that will meet your goals, as well as teach you proper form to avoid injury.