251013 An introduction into strength and power training for all ages-part 2

An introduction into strength and power training for all ages-part 2

If you’ve never lifted weights before or done any type of resistance training the biggest barrier to starting may be knowing where to begin. This may be your situation, if so all you need to start is a comfortable pair of shoes and clothing. Adding to this, a solidly built chair, a few dumbbells and if you’re able to skip rope, a skip rope. This is all you need to get started. There, that wasn’t so difficult was it?

Since the health benefits of strength training are founded on its ability to protect against the onslaught of frailty, while at the same time making everyday tasks easier and more manageable it is essential that you begin sooner rather than later. The longer you wait the more your muscle tissue, bone density, and strength dwindle. If you don’t do something about your strength and power abilities you will soon find it difficult to walk upstairs, get up from a chair, carry groceries, and fend for yourself as an independent person.

Not only will you find it difficult to do the aforementioned tasks but also lacking strength leads to falls and that can mean incapacitating fractures. This in turn further compromises your ability to lead an active life. Strength training has a wealth of research backing its ability to effectively slow down and possibly reverse these life altering events.

Even if you are in your 70s, 80s, 90s and above, research has shown a dramatic increase in strength, power, agility, and mobility within 10 weeks of lifting weights 2 to 3 times a week. Now you have to admit that this is not a tremendous time commitment, especially considering the benefits to your health.

010713 Physical activity guidelines and the benefits of walking

Physical activity guidelines and the benefits of walking

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recommends at least two and a half hours of strength training per week working muscle groups such as the shoulders, chest, upper back, lower back, legs, and abdominal muscles. And two and a half hours of moderate aerobic activity spread throughout the week. Exercise time is decreased if the intensity is higher. In this case, DHHS recommends one hour and fifteen minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, again spread throughout the week.

You will note there are no weekend warrior (meaning someone who tries to get all of their exercise time in on one day) recommendations here. Those who try to cram it all in on one-day or over two days frequently end up injured.

If you are not able to set aside 30 minutes each day, then do your exercises in 10-minute bursts over the course of the day.

Participating in a daily regimen of physical activity not only enhances your heart, lungs, and circulatory systems it also eases the pain of arthritis.

This may sound counterintuitive to the arthritis sufferer but the physical act of moving the joints keeps the synovial fluid, the transparent, viscid fluid secreted by the synovial membrane and found in joint cavities, bursae, and tendon sheaths, of the joints equally spread throughout them.

Walking can help you attain and maintain a healthy weight, which is important because numerous studies have found a link between obesity and cancer of the colon, esophagus, kidneys, the breast in postmenopausal women, and the uterus.

Physical activity can also reduce your risk of coronary artery disease, improve the efficiency of your cardiovascular system and boost the high-density lipoproteins (HDL) cholesterol and can even help manage or prevent high blood pressure. As a side note, losing excess fat weight also has the tendency to lower your blood pressure numbers and make you feel better about yourself.

Fighting depression can be a lifelong task but scientists find that physical activity can be a useful addition to pharmacology and therapy for treating depression. If you are depressed, see someone and get help. Physical activity helps ease the stress of the day, helps cut back on anxiety, helps you sleep better, and boosts your spirits for facing the day.

Walking, as well as other physical activity can help prevent the risk of type II diabetes. Additionally physical activity may also make it possible to decrease the amount of insulin or other types of medications you may be taking to control your diabetes. It goes without saying, but I am going to say it anyway, see your Doctor before altering your medication.

Osteoporosis is a scary term for those with the diagnosis. Walking puts a load on the bones, which in turn causes them to become stronger, which in the long-term may well prevent fractures. Physical activity combined with a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D may help prevent or slow the progression of osteoporosis.

Summary:

There are many good reasons to exercise and probably 100 times that many excuses for not exercising. The decision is up to you as to whether not you take advantage of the opportunities to exercise and thereby improve your health or simply sit around and complain about it.

240513 Strength and flexibility training-2

240513 Strength and flexibility training-2

Increasing your lean muscle mass through the use of bodyweight, bands or free weight exercises  boosts your metabolism, maintains and increases your bone mineral density. A study conducted in 2002-2003 showed that regular strength training, note the words strength training, reduced the risk of coronary heart disease by approximately twenty three percent when compared to men who did not resistance train.

As a minimum, head off to the gym or to your exercise room and work the large muscle groups at least three times a week on alternate days for a minimum of twenty minutes each session. If you’re already exercising for twenty minutes then bump it up to thirty with the goal of forty five to fifty minutes three times a week. Do so in stages of ten percent per week until you reach the top times.

The large muscle groups include the shoulders, chest, legs and back. You can use your body weight, free weights or elastic materials during these training sessions. Keep a log book.

After the strength training session is over, move into five to ten minutes of static stretching. Hold these stretches at the point of mild discomfort for ten to thirty seconds, three to five times per stretch per area.

Stretching will improve your flexibility; the answer to those tight lower back, hamstring and shoulder muscles and joints. It is vital that you do stretches for your calves, thighs, hips, low back, your neck and shoulders if you want to stay fluid in your movements. Do them slowly and hold them for the prescribed amounts of time for each one.

200513 The link between gardening and stronger bones

The link between gardening and stronger bones

Calcium has been the go to supplement recommended by doctors and used by women to help maintain their bone health. Even though calcium is necessary for strong bones, it is not enough. You still need to do weight bearing exercises such as those found in strength training.

Adding an external load to your body puts a healthy stress on your muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bones. All of which working together increase the density and thereby the strength of your bones. Placing an emphasis on the long bone in your lower torso by doing squats and deadlifts not only strengthens the bones but also makes you stronger as well in your abs, legs, lower back, and shoulders.

Somehow, I got off track a bit from the link between gardening and your bone health. Recall earlier on when mention was made of the connection between load bearing exercise and bone health – it was in the previous paragraph and earlier still of calcium supplements.

It just so happens that gardening with all the stooping, squatting, lifting, walking and carrying stuff around in the sun is great for your bone health because the sunlight provides bone building vitamin D. and the rest of the movements support the process of building stronger bones.

There is a caution that needs to be said here and that is to use sunscreen if you are going to be outside longer than fifteen minutes. This is particularly important if you are out there between 1000 and 1400 hours.

150413 Get strong and stay strong with strength training

Get strong and stay strong with strength training

It would appear, from a casual glance at the magazines in the stores that aerobics is a panacea for all the health problems existing in our country. Well it does sell magazines, but is it true?

Certainly participating in aerobic activity plays an important part in accomplishing and then maintaining a certain level of good health. However, lifting weights or sandbags, using resistance bands, and body weight calisthenics are important to anyone who wants to preserve or increase their lean muscle mass.

We are not talking about showboat muscles. We are talking about muscles that are necessary to help lead an active daily life. Having a strong upper body, midsection, and lower body helps delay the frequent muscle weaknesses that automatically come with age.

Exercising the muscles increases the stress placed on the bones, which in turn makes the bones stronger and less susceptible to fracturing. Resistance training also helps increase the fat burning capability of the body due to the more active muscle tissue  in relation to fat.

Full body resistance training a minimum of two times a week and preferably three times per week for 30 to 40 minutes a session will most assuredly increase your fitness level and at the same time make you stronger. Follow a schedule that includes the major muscle groups of the body for 3-4 sets of 8 to twelve repetitions each set. Rest a minute or two and then start the set over again until they are all completed.

The major muscle groups include the shoulders, the chest, the upper back, the lower back, the legs (both front and rear), the biceps and triceps, and abdominal muscles. If you feel as though time is limited then do an upper body one day and the lower body the next day. Do your abs everyday on both the upper and lower schedules.

220313 Assessing your risk of a bone fracture over the next ten years

Assessing your risk of a bone fracture over the next ten years

The World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Metabolic Bone Diseases, University of Sheffield, UK http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/FRAX/ (1) has developed a calculator that helps estimate your risks are of a bone fracture over the next ten years. FRAX, an acronym, of the Fracture Risk Assessment Tool that doctors are encouraged to use when prescribing medicine for their patients with a bone disease, either in its infancy such as osteopenia or full ranges of osteoporosis.

The FRAX guide takes into consideration the following when doing the calculations:

Age
Gender
Weight (2)
Height (3)
Any previous fractures
Prior hip fractures
Smoking or nonsmoking status
The use of glucocorticoids such as prednisolone for over three months
Whether or not the person had rheumatoid arthritis
Secondary osteoporosis, i.e. menopause before turning 45 years of age or type two diabetes uses alcohol more than three times a day

Femoral neck bone mineral density

As one may see, this is a fairly thorough list of items the doctors look at to help guide them in their decision as to whether they should consider using medication or not in the treatment of an individual’s bone health.

For example, if the risk of a hip fracture is at least three percent or a bone fracture is at twenty percent or greater over the next ten years then the NOF recommends prescribing medication to slow down or stop the continuation of the disease. On a good note, according to the NOF, most men and women won’t enter these danger areas until they are in their seventies.

Take a moment to look the site over and see how you fair. If you are in the danger zones talk to your doctor. Did you notice the Body Mass Index (BMI) listing just above the end result number? What number showed up?

For your information, here are the current recommendations as to the accepted BMI for good health. Warning, The BMI is not a useful tool if you are an active person with more than usual muscular development.

BMI Categories:

Underweight = <18.5
Normal weight = 18.5–24.9
Overweight = 25–29.9
Obesity = BMI of 30 or greater

Ponder the information here and decide for yourself whether you need to be seeing a doctor about your risk of a bone fracture.

[1] The FRAX® tool has been developed by WHO to evaluate fracture risk of patients. It is based on individual patient models that integrate the risks associated with clinical risk factors as well as bone mineral density (BMD) at the femoral neck.

The FRAX® models have been developed from studying population-based cohorts from Europe, North America, Asia and Australia. In their most sophisticated form, the FRAX® tool is computer-driven and is available on this site. Several simplified paper versions, based on the number of risk factors are also available, and can be downloaded for office use.

The FRAX® algorithms give the 10-year probability of fracture. The output is a 10-year probability of hip fracture and the 10-year probability of a major osteoporotic fracture (clinical spine, forearm, hip or shoulder fracture).

[1] To convert your bodyweight, in pounds, to kilograms http://www.onlineconversion.com/weight_common.htm

[1] to convert inches to centimeters or vice versa, here is the site that will convert inches to centimeters: http://www.onlineconversion.com/length_common.htm