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The Benefits of Strength Training

Exercise is important to achieving and sustaining your optimal health. While cardiovascular exercise may be popular (and for good reason: it helps to condition the heart and lungs, improves circulation, controls blood pressure and increases endurance), strength training with exercises like weight lifting is just as vital to overall health. In fact, strength training (also known as resistance training or weight-bearing exercise) offers benefits that cardiovascular exercise alone cannot offer. Learn more about strength training, what it can do for you and simple ways to incorporate it into your lifestyle.

Why Strength Training?

As we get older, we lose our muscle. Research indicates that after age thirty, the average person loses approximately 10 percent of his or her muscle every decade. This can lead to a variety of health issues, such as a loss of balance, decreased muscle strength and loss of bone mass. Strength training helps to minimize these issues; it can even reverse some of these signs of aging. The result is a more fit body and body shape, better bodily functioning and a lifestyle that, for most adults, is more enjoyable.

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Finding a Strength Training Routine

For maximum benefits, experts recommend a strength-training program that is balanced with a healthy diet and cardiovascular exercise. Your physician can offer tailored advice for your situation, but three, 20-minute sessions per week can provide you with positive results. Use these suggestions when getting started on a strength-training routine:

Start your new program slowly. You may not be able to do an entire resistance-training program the first time. However, you can still aim for your goals by slowly adding on to your routine over time.

Space out your strength-training sessions. Although it may seem more efficient to do two sets in one session, research indicates that one set completed three times per week offers maximum benefits.

Incorporate strength training into your existing workout. If you walk on a regular basis, try jogging at a slow pace for one minute. Even a small amount of increased resistance can add bone mass.

Hire a personal trainer. Many gyms offer a free introductory session with a trainer; if not, consider purchasing a package that will allow you to understand how to properly complete moves. Verify your trainer is certified and, if possible, hire one who is familiar with any conditions you may have.

Get a partner. Having someone who relies on you (and vice-versa) can get you to go to the gym even when you do not want to. It can make a workout more enjoyable, as well.