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Don't Neglect Strength Training

You Don’t Have to Choose Strength Training or Cardio: Do Both and Get Greater Results

Paul Pedrazas, 72, has been engaged in strength training and aerobic exercise for decades. His friends picked one or the other – or, worse, didn’t exercise at all. But for Paul, the combination of strength and endurance training was key.

“I just always knew I had to do both -- that’s what worked for me,” says Paul, a semi-retired real estate agent. “That’s always been my M.O.”

He had a family history of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes he wanted to pro- actively manage, and he combined fitness with healthy eating to overcome a few challenges along the way.

A Powerful Combination

Paul’s belief in using a two-pronged approach to exercise – rather than choosing to, say, run but never lift weights – gained tremendous validation on an international scale recently. Australian researchers compared exercise habits and obesity among 1.7 million Americans. They categorized men and women as being overweight, active or inactive – and whether they participated in aerobic exercise, resistance training or both.

No surprise: Fewer active people were fat.

But here’s the news. The rate of obesity declined dramatically further among people who – like Paul – performed both types of exercise regularly.

Researchers stress that more study is needed into the complex causes of obesity. They say it’s possible that the combination of both types of exercise causes changes in our bodies and even brains that lower the risk of gaining too much weight.

Diet is, of course, crucial to avoiding obesity. And any exercise is better than none.

Don’t Neglect Strength Training

But too many “older” people resist the idea of strength training. They think it will make them bulky or give them huge muscles. Or they don’t see the point in lifting weights, using resistance bands, or even practicing yoga and doing pushups.

But starting sometime in midlife, human beings lose muscle mass consistently – unless they engage in strength training to build it up again. Weightlifting (or any resistance training) is essential also for bone health and good balance to avoid falls after 50. It helps us sleep better. It’s good for our skin tone and complexion.

We could go on and on – and no one is suggesting you shouldn’t engage in cardio exercise, like jogging, swimming or using an elliptical machine.

But keep this research in mind when you’re planning your exercise. Come talk to us about your fitness goals and how to incorporate both facets into your fitness regime.

It’s always worked for Paul. “It makes me feel good,” he says. “When I’m stressed, I can go and do some aerobics and weightlifting, and guess what? My mood is elevated, I’m on a bit of a high, and it brings back that ‘can do’ attitude.

“Unfortunately, people get older and fail to exercise, or maybe they just go for a walk. And they lose that sense of confidence, and it leads to further deterioration of the body. That’s never going to be me.”

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