Why do you exercise?
If you do it to lose weight, you’re probably wasting your time.
That’s because studies show little or no link between exercise and meaningful, long-term weight loss.
What you eat has far more impact on your body weight.
But that doesn’t mean exercise doesn’t improve your health. And the type of workout that gives you the most benefit is resistance training. This is especially true if you are middle-age or older, researchers say.
Dr. Loren Chiu is an exercise physiologist at Canada’s University of Alberta. “The importance of exercise goes beyond weight loss, particularly lifting weights,” he said.
Strength is more important than aerobic fitness as you get older because muscle power is what gives you the ability to live independently. “If muscles are weak, they might give out doing such routine tasks as carrying groceries or shoveling the snow,” Dr. Chiu said.
Dr. Kerry Mummery is a colleague of Dr. Chiu’s at the University of Alberta. He says older people often mistakenly believe they are in good shape if they weigh the same as they did when they were younger.
“As people age, they can erroneously use scales to think that everything’s fine because they weigh 185 pounds and they’ve been 185 for the last 30 years,” he said.
The problem is that even though they weigh the same, more of their weight is fat and less of it is muscle, Dr. Mummery said.
“More emphasis needs to be placed on the maintenance of muscle mass as one ages,” he said.
Strength training may actually be better for weight loss than aerobic workouts, Dr. Mummery said. That’s because the more muscle you have, the more fat you burn while at rest.
A pound of muscle burns six calories a day. A pound of fat burns only two.
Your brain also benefits if your muscles are strong.
Why? When we exercise, our bodies produce lactic acid. It’s a chemical which helps generate energy in our muscles. It’s also the preferred source of energy for brain neurons. They eagerly consume it when we exercise.
Researcher Claire Scavuzzo says strength exercise is linked to better quality sleep because lactic acid “will amplify the amount of time the brain spends” in the slow-wave sleep periods that strengthen memory.
8 Best Resistance Exercises
This is the workout Dr. Chiu recommends. Do the following eight exercises two or three times a week.
Do three sets of each exercise. On the first set, do about half the maximum weight you can manage for five to six repetitions. On the second set, lift about 75% of the masximum. On the third set, lift the heaviest weight you can do.
- Seated rows
- Overhead press
- Bench press
One more thing…
Consult a trainer to learn the proper form before doing any of these exercises. Otherwise, you could injure yourself.
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