Walking is good and combining with strength training is better
June 29, 1999
Web posted at: 11:33 AM EDT (1533 GMT)
By Miriam Nelson
Walking is great exercise. Enthusiasts reap many health benefits, both physically and emotionally. Walking and other aerobic activities help to improve sleep and to decrease symptoms of depression, the risk of developing heart disease and Type II diabetes. Walking also helps to reduce obesity while decreasing body fat and improving circulation.
However, to increase and maintain bone and muscle mass, strengthening exercises are the way to go. Little by little, fat replaces muscle and bone tissue as you age. While the bathroom scale may not change, your body composition does -- unless you take action.
Benefits of strength training
In comparison to walking programs, strength-training programs are more effective in increasing muscle mass and bone density, with as little as two half-hour sessions per week. In addition, strength training provides benefits similar to aerobic exercise such as decreasing depression, improving sleep, helping with weight management and decreasing body fat.
Increased bone density reduces the risk of osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become thin and brittle and are easily fractured during falls or other accidents. And maintaining muscular strength is extremely important for continued independence and physical function as you age.
Integrating strength training into your exercise program
If you are walking an hour everyday, six days a week, substitute a portion of your walking time with strength training to receive the maximum benefit from exercise. For example, on three of the six days, decrease your walking time to a half-hour and reserve the second half-hour for strengthening exercises. On the other three days, continue to walk for the full hour. It is important to take a day off in between strength-training sessions. Walking everyday, whether strength training or not, is fine.
To modify your current walking program to include strength training, you have several options for getting started:
1) At home -- To start a program at home, you will need to purchase equipment and instructional materials. My two books, "Strong Women Stay Young" and "Strong Women Stay Slim," outline at-home strength training program. The second book also includes nutrition and aerobic exercise components.
2) At a fitness facility -- To utilize the equipment provided at gyms and health clubs, it is important to receive instruction from a trainer on staff before starting a program. Be sure to ask your questions as they come up.
3) Using a personal trainer -- Either at home or at a fitness facility, you may also want to work one-on-one with a personal trainer who can give added motivation, guidance and instruction. You can find personal trainers through local gyms and health clubs, or in the phone book.
All physical activity, be it gardening, walking, biking, hiking, swimming or strengthening exercises, is important for maintaining independence and function as you age. Regular physical activity also decreases the risk for developing various chronic diseases, including heart disease, arthritis and osteoporosis. However, the best way to maintain bone and muscle mass and cardiovascular function is to do a combination of activities that includes both strength training and aerobic exercise.
Copyright 1999 by WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved.
RELATEDS AT :
Strength Training for Seniors
Exercise and Osteoporosis
The Power of Strength Training: An Important Influence on Health and Disease Prevention
American Association of Retired Persons -- Health
American Medical Association-Fitness Basics
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