RESISTANCE TRAINING … WHY YOU SHOULD NOT RESIST!
I often feel like I’m preaching to the choir when I talk about the crucial health benefits of muscle-toning exercises. Yes, aerobic exercises are important for your cardiovascular system, and weight control. However, that is an entirely different conversation.
I will share my authentic and very personal experience. As I continue to edit the Body Electric shows for streaming, I am continually facing a very fit Maggie who made exercise look effortless. And, hopefully, that inspired you. My decades-long investment in fitness paid off. As I shared with you, I had hip replacement surgery exactly one year ago, and quickly recovered (three weeks!). The doctor attributed my speedy recovery directly to my level of fitness.
But, wait! I also have challenges. As my pre-surgery hip became more uncomfortable, I backed away from aerobic exercise and other movements that challenged lower body muscles. The recovery period, post surgery, combined with my pre-surgery limitations resulted in an obvious loss of muscle mass. It is said that muscles have memory which refers to committing a specific motor task into memory through repetition (example: riding a bicycle). Therefore, when circumstances cause a break from your fitness program, your familiarity with the exercises will facilitate a smooth transition when you return.
Did I say smooth transition? I also have to credit discipline! After creating the Body Electric shows, I could re-create the exercises without actually watching the program. Now, so many years later, I have begun to follow the shows because:
- I love the motivating music.
- Doing the shows in sequence provides a balanced program.
- I never have to work out alone. The dancers who accompany me are friends.
- The constant reminders regarding correct form are really helpful.
- And, I’m very nice to Maggie, the instructor, because that’s what she likes.
The Body Electric program really works to create muscle strength and tone, if you increase the resistance (weights), as you are able to do so, without compromising correct form. If you continue to use the same 3lb. weights without adding more resistance, your progress will plateau. I suggest that you have a few sets of dumbbells available (3lbs, 5lbs, 8lbs.) as your strength will vary according to your energy on a particular day or, for a particular exercise. You can start the exercise with heavier dumbbells and change to lighter weights, or no weights. With consistency, which is all-important, your strength will increase.
Sarcopenia is the enemy. Declining muscle mass begins as early as age 40 and, without intervention, gets increasingly worse, with as much as half of muscle mass lost by age 70.” (See Washington Times article: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/03/well/live/preventing-muscle-loss-among-the-elderly.html). A well-designed program using resistance training that strengthens the muscles without stressing the joints, can slow sarcopenia and improve muscle strength, muscle tone, and overall function. Consistency is key. Activities such as walking, playing tennis, or riding a bike benefit you aerobically, but do not prevent the loss of muscle mass and strength.
It’s never too late to get started. “Sarcopenia can be considered for muscle what osteoporosis is to bone,” Dr. John E. Morley, a geriatrician at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, wrote in the journal Family Practice. He pointed out that up to 13 percent of people in their 60s and as many as half of those in their 80s have sarcopenia causing functional decline and the loss of independence in older adults. Regardless of your current level of fitness, strength and resistance training is crucial to your overall health and wellness. Muscle strengthening exercises, using resistance, also correct muscle imbalances and improve core strength which protects against falls (really important!).
Check with your doctor, and plan to consistently participate in a resistance program several times each week. You will soon enjoy added muscle strength, and confidence in your ability to perform the tasks that create functional independence. It’s truly the fountain of youth!
Body Electric Streaming Video with Margaret Richard is a subscription service that offers the Body Electric muscle-toning programs that aired on PBS, including the original music.