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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Weight Training for Health

Do you do 20 to 30 minutes of cardio a few days a week to keep your health in check? Even if you do, cardio isn’t enough to keep you healthy and strong as the decades pass. New physical activity guidelines from the American College of Sports and Medicine and the American Heart Association encourage Americans to strength train in addition to getting regular cardiovascular exercise. They suggest at least two training periods a week to work out the major muscle groups.

From my own perspective, I would certainly agree with this. Resistance training, a.k.a. strength training can payoff in a lot of different ways: burning more calories and reducing body fat, allowing one to add more muscle tissue which results in a heightened ability to burn more calories and reduce body fat, and stronger bones (resistance training improves bone density).

Of course, not everyone is cut out for hitting the barbells and dumbells (a variety of factors, including age and level of infirmity, could affect whether nor not this type of activity is suitable for an individual). Fortunately, strength training doesn’t necessarily have to mean bodybuilding or lifting free weights (i.e. anaerobic activity). Strength training can involve the use of machines and various resistance activities that work toward a similar goal, which is to make sure that the major muscle groups are "worked out" sufficiently.

Cardiovascular exercise is a definite must. But as research continues to indicate (and validate what strength training enthusiasts have known for decades) muscle training is also needed to keep a person strong, fit and healthy.

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