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Healthy Living

Women & Iron: Not Just for Dumbells

For many years, aerobic exercise has held the focus of our attention -- mostly, because of its ability to regulate body weight, normalize blood pressure, control cholesterol and glucose levels, and reduce the intensity of hot flashes, not to mention it's psychosocial benefits.

Yet, the importance of a well-rounded exercise program -- one that includes both aerobic and strength training -- is becoming more evident.

Weight-bearing and resistance exercises can preserve skeletal muscle and bone strength. Resistance exercise should be emphasized especially for thin women because they are at a higher risk for frailty-associated disorders such as osteoporosis and sarcopenia.

Weight training can be the least time-consuming method to help you better perform daily activities, decrease the likelihood of developing back pain and may help you avoid disability. Furthermore, it will contribute to better balance, coordination and agility

However, weight training shouldn't replace your aerobic workout. Remember that every adult should accumulate 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity every day, in combination with strength training.

Building Muscles and Better Health

Weight training basics:

  • For most people, strength activities should be performed at a level of intensity that can be easily maintained for 30 minutes without becoming exhausted.

  • The training program should emphasize muscle groups and movements that are important in your daily activities, whether you are a marathon runnor or an active mom.

  • If you are pressed for time, narrow the routine to three core exercises: bench presses, latissimus pull-downs, and squats or leg extensions. A full program would include the previous, as well as arm curls, tricep extensions, leg presses, leg curls, and calf raises.

  • Alwasy include a warm-up and flexibility session of 10 to 15 minutes before the workout, and a 5 to 10 minute cool down after it.

  • The choice between free weights or machines is one of individual preference.

  • The standard advice is to train three times per week, resting 24 to 48 hours between sessions.

  • Two to three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions of a particular exercise are recommended for muscle strengthening. One should never train to exhaustion. When it becomes easy to perform 15 repetitions, the weight should then be increased.

  • Proper form is of particular importance to avoid injury during strength training. Schedule a consultation with both your physician and then an exercise professional to avoid unnecessary injury and optimize your benefits.

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