I’ve been at this game called “exercise” my entire adult life, and it is my ever-growing certainty that no matter the issue, no matter the benefit sought, no matter the disease to be addressed or the problem to be surmounted, strength training seems to be the answer.
Want to look better in your clothes (or out of them)? Want to address diabetes, hypertension, obesity and other diseases?
Are you about to enter into chemotherapy? Are you suffering from depression? In almost all of these situations, strength training is the most effective measure you can take on the road to good health. Numerous studies in recent years have proven this.
When it comes to strength training, I have definite opinions on the best and most efficient way to perform it, but those opinions are not as strong as my belief that you should perform strength training in almost any form. Muscle has evolved over billions of years and is the most adaptive and plastic tissue in our body. As such, strength training can be incredibly simple, precisely because muscle is so complex.
There are many different ways to train, and skeletal muscle will adapt to them all. My only concern is when improper training techniques pose an injury risk. As training expert Arthur Jones once said, “It won’t matter if you have 20-inch arms if you injure your back.”
In the past 10 years, scientific literature has exploded with studies that uncover benefits to strength training that we never imagined. Much of this is linked to myokines, the hormone-like substances released by exercising muscle that benefit other body tissues.
Like my lifelong focus, most of this literature centers on the why of strength training. As the why becomes more accepted and obvious, the focus will begin to shift to the how....
Many people exercise, and they do it for a variety of reasons.
Most tend to focus on cosmetic reasons, but the No. 1 thing that I’m interested in as an exercise professional is a functional ability — the ability to carry out everyday tasks with ease. You name it: walking, getting up from a chair, lifting, climbing stairs or participating in your favorite activities.
Those most affected by losses in functional ability are the elderly. However, with targeted strength training, they can see a rapid reversal of this condition.
Strength training stimulates skeletal muscular strengthening. All reasonable expectations from exercise are accessed through the skeletal muscles — the only window into the body — by strengthening them. Expectations should include:
- Improvements in bone density and balance
- Vascular and metabolic efficiency
- Joint stability
- Muscular strength
The elderly are just as capable of performing productive exercise as anyone and stand to gain as much, if not more, from strength training.
Research has shown that exercise programs for elderly patients have a role in preventing illness and injury, limiting functional loss and disability, and alleviating the course and symptoms of existing cardiac, pulmonary, musculoskeletal and metabolic disorders.
Of course, exercise safety is paramount when discussing training programs for elderly populations.
It is crucial to abide by preliminary exercise considerations. Attempting to stimulate physical improvements would not be worthwhile if someone gets hurt doing it.
Strength Training 101 for the Elderly
- Choose only one to two days per week to do strength training. All of the “good stuff” happens while we recover from exercise, and this can take three to seven days. Recovery periods may need to be even longer as we age or become more advanced in our exercise performance.
- Choose the minimum number of exercises that produce the greatest effect.
Get an Energy and Productivity Jumpstart
By Jeff Tomaszewski
Four hundred and thirty-eight million: That is the number of vacation days Americans failed to take last year, more than any other industrialized nation, according to Harris Interactive Research Group.
Here’s the result: America ranks first in both depression and mental health issues.
Americans are burned out. Our productivity and creativity are dropping, relationships are failing and our rising stress is leading to record levels of heart disease, stomach ulcers and depression.
All Work, No Play
We’re judged by how much we work. We’re afraid of being replaced or left behind, and we’re addicted to busyness. It’s not only destroying our mental and physical health but also our creative productivity.
This is especially true in our global economy, where our future lies with our ability to think creatively, innovatively and productively.
Rest and recovery are vital to looking and feeling your best. Unfortunately, it’s viewed as a weakness rather than as an integral aspect of growth and sustained performance.
We become flatliners mentally, emotionally and physically by endlessly spending sufficient energy without recovery. We slowly wear down and become ineffective.
Taking a break might be difficult for some of us. Consider these tips:
Reframe it: Instead of calling it time off and thinking we are slackers, reframe it as “rejuvenation time.” This sounds more purposeful and meaningful, doesn’t it? This might be mental manipulation, but we’ll take whatever works.
Schedule it: What gets scheduled gets done. Like any critical appointment, you have to plant your time-off flag on your calendar and defend it. Take a break from email. Put your phone and other electronic devices aside.
Declare it: Don’t feel guilty or try to keep it a secret. Lead by example and show others how to make rejuvenation part of an overall health plan....
Hudson Community Education and Recreation (HCER) will soon be offering adults ages 50+ a new way to stay fit – even if they have arthritis. Thanks to an instructor training grant from the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HCER will offer the Walk With Ease (WWE) program to the Hudson community. HCER is one of 71 park and recreation agencies to receive the WWE instructor training grant.
HCER’s community education and recreation programs have long been centers of health and wellness in the community. The WWE program, developed by the Arthritis Foundation, is scientifically proven to help reduce pain and stiffness associated with arthritis. Studies by the Thurston Arthritis Research Center and the Institute on Aging at the University of North Carolina have shown that participation in Walk With Ease contributes to reduced pain, increased balance and strength, and improved overall health.
“Arthritis affects more than 52 million adults in the United States — including people who live right here in Hudson,” said Meredith Zaffrann, HCER Director. “This grant from NRPA and the CDC allows us to help the older adults in our community, and adds a new way for Hudson residents to work to achieve a healthy lifestyle.”
The Walk With Ease program will be offered three times per week for six weeks by certified and trained HCER Walk With Ease instructors. Classes will meet at Barlow Community Center on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9am to 10am, May 15th – June 23rd. An informational meeting and registration will take place on Monday, April 24th at Barlow Community Center, 41 S. Oviatt Street, Hudson. Cost for the six week program is just $5.
The Walk with Ease classes are ideally suited for anyone that is interested in preventing or managing arthritis, but also for those looking for a regular, low-impact exercise program in their local community....
The Few, the Long-Lived … The Strength Trainers
Strength training is the way to live better longer.
Yet, few people do it. It’s hard to understand.
Over the past decade, researchers have demonstrated the benefits of strength training for strength, muscle mass and physical function, as well as for improvements in chronic conditions such as diabetes, osteoporosis, lower back pain and obesity.
Only about 9 percent of older adults do strength training at least once a week, according to one study — a small fraction of people but higher than researchers expected.
The researchers in one study followed the respondents for 15 years. About a third of the respondents had died within the time period. The remaining who trained at least twice a week had a 46 percent lower risk of death than those who did not do the training. They also had 41 percent lower odds of cardiac death and 19 percent lower risk of dying from cancer.
Significantly, after the researchers controlled for physical activity levels, people who did strength exercises lived longer than those who did only physical activity.
The study is strong evidence that strength training in older adults has benefits beyond improving muscle strength and physical function.
Jeff Tomaszewski is owner of MaxStrength Fitness in Westlake. He’s a certified athletic trainer and a strength and conditioning specialist. Visit maxstrengthfitness.com or call 440-835-9090....
Are you as old as you feel? Does your chronological age match your biological age? We’ve all met people who seem much younger than their age and have boundless energy. We’ve also known people who look and act much older than their age.
As we age, our metabolism slows, making it tougher to lose weight. After 40, our biological age starts to speed up, and we age faster than our chronological age. It doesn’t need to be this way. You have more control over the aging process than you think. You have the power to slow aging and prolong your youth.
TRY STRENGTH TRAINING
When we add strength training to an exercise routine, we can stimulate our muscles to unleash a powerful flood of muscle-strengthening, fat-burning and anti-aging hormones to reverse the aging process and greatly slow down both biological and chronological aging.
Stimulating and exhausting all of our muscle fibers is the key that will cause the other metabolic processes and organs of the body to respond better.
In order for a strength-training workout to produce results, sufficient rest and recovery time are necessary to allow growth. If we provide a sufficient stimulus to the body and allow for rest and recovery, the body will respond in a positive way with the desired physical and metabolic changes.
GET WITH THE (STRENGTH) PROGRAM
When you incorporate strength training into your exercise routine, you will:
• Re-ignite your metabolism, reprogramming your body to start burning body fat.
• Reboot the endocrine system, creating a resurgence of youth-enhancing hormones so you can get infinitely more energy and replace flab with lean, strong muscle.
• Fortify your body by regaining bone density and building a solid foundation.
• Boost your brainpower, enhance memory and improve cognitive function.
• Improve functional ability, making daily activities easier and more enjoyable....
Had a good laugh lately?
It’s no joke that humor is good for your health. Sharing laughter really may be the best medicine. Does that mean a doctor can tell us to “take two jokes and call us in the morning”? Not exactly, but research suggests that laughing has short-term and long-term benefits to health and well-being.
Short-term benefits can include a variety of physical changes in your body that have a positive impact. Laughter has been shown to increase your oxygen level, to lower blood pressure, to stimulate your heart, lungs and muscles, and to release endorphins — the “feel good” hormones.
Laughter also reduces the body’s response to stress. Stress and anxiety release hormones that over time can wear down your body and immune system. If you can share a joke or find a light moment in times of stress, it can reduce those hormones, stimulate muscle relaxation and cut down on anxiety, creating a relaxed feeling.
And, believe it or not, laughter is good exercise. It is great for your abdominals. When you laugh, the muscles in your stomach contract, so it’s like doing a sit-up.
LAUGH NOW, GET BENEFITS LATER
In the long term, studies have shown that laughter can boost the immune system and offset negative chemical effects in the body, again thanks to endorphins.
Laughter can act like a natural pain reliever to decrease the amount of pain we might feel, according to research.
Laughter also increases our personal satisfaction with life, helps us cope with difficult issues — such as chronic illness — and has social benefits. When we share a laugh with someone, it connects us to them. Those with more social involvement have improved health and well-being.
BUT LIFE’S JUST NOT THAT FUNNY
What if laughter doesn’t come easily to you?...