Any type of exercise is good, but resistance training might be especially beneficial.
As important as diet is, what gets talked about significantly less is the importance exercise plays in good health. While diet is critical to successfully gaining control of your health, all the dieting in the world might be for not if you do not move your body. Our bodies were designed to move, and when we are sedentary, they simply do not work as well as they should.
Study after study confirms the benefits of exercising, yet few people commit to make time to do it. Fortunately, research tells us that as little as 150 minutes per week spent walking is enough to begin to glean the benefits of exercise. Simply put, there is no excuse for anyone to not begin to implement an exercise regimen.
Our relationship to exercise, however, should not just stop there. As you progress and begin to get into better shape, you should think about including some form of resistance training into your regimen.
Resistance training can involve lifting weights, using exercise machines, using resistance bands, or your own body weight––any physical activity where your muscles must work against a form of resistance.
This type of training is important because it helps build and maintain muscle. Muscles, in a very real way embody the idea of “use it or lose it”. They must be worked in order to be built and in order to be maintained. This is important for people at any age, but particularly as people get older, resistance training becomes key to maintaining strength, improves muscle tone and keeping the definition of muscles.
Resistance exercising works by breaking down muscle, which sounds counterintuitive. When you engage in resistance training, your muscle fibers are broken down, but your body rushes into do its job, repairing the muscle fibers and ultimately making them stronger. This is why people experience soreness after working out, and why you need to leave time between resistance training sessions to recover. Ultimately, as your muscles recover, they will increase their strength, tone and size.
Importantly too, resistance training has been shown to assist in maintaining strong bones and might help prevent osteoporosis. It turns out that forcing our bones to carry the weight during resistance training has benefits for them long term, as well. Interestingly, bone scans comparing the bone density of athletes––swimmers vs. runners––showed that the bone density of runners to be higher than that of swimmers. This is speculated to be because the force of supporting the body causes bones to maintain their density and strength.
Resistance training has been shown to have benefits for blood pressure and prevent falling in the elderly. While it is never too late to begin a resistance training regimen, consult your doctor before making any significant changes to your exercise habits.