I know you’re all sitting out there pondering your 2015 exercise regime and contemplating what type of fitness program you’re going to pursue in the coming year. Aren’t you?
Here’s a word for you to consider while ruminating over exactly what you’re going to include in your workout’s next year – sarcopenia. That’s the word researchers and fitness professionals use to describe the loss of muscle mass that occurs during the aging process.
Experts contend that once we hit middle age, our muscle mass diminishes at the rate of 1 percent a year. Women battle a doubled-edged sword in the aging process with the risk of losing bone mass to osteoporosis.
However, not to worry, there is an ever-growing body of scientific evidence that strength training – aka weight lifting or resistance training – can not only slow down the loss of muscle and bone mass but can actually reverse the process. In addition, according to the American Heart Association, there are several new studies confirming that mild-to-moderate weight lifting can lower your blood pressure and LDL (bad) cholesterol as well as raise your HDL (good) cholesterol, improving your overall cardiovascular health.
And there’s more good news – the October 2012 issue of the Harvard Health Letter cites research studies showing that strength training can help reduce the risk of falls, back pain, depression and even help reduce the pain associated with arthritis. Another study found that 150 minutes of weight training a week can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 34 percent.
Throw in the facts that you can increase your muscle mass resulting in a higher metabolism helping you fight creeping obesity and that research has found that lifting weights as little as twice a week increases your cognitive performance, the only question left to be asked is, “When can you start!”
First a word of caution – if you have been sedentary or under a doctor’s care, check with your primary care physician before starting any exercise program. And if the inside of a health club looks like the control deck of the Starship Enterprise, hire a nationally certified fitness professional to show you the ropes.
The American Council on Exercise recommends a strength training program that works all major muscle groups to prevent strength imbalances and postural problems. One to two sets of 8 to 12 repetitions working the muscles to fatigue is sufficient.
ACE also suggests you breathe normally throughout the exercise and lower the resistance with a slow controlled cadence through a full range-of-motion. Lift the weight with a two-second count and lowering it with a three to four-second count. Start out slowly with light weights increasing the amount you are lifting by 5 to 10 percent when you can perform 12 repetitions with good form and technique and full range-of-motion.
There is no doubt that strength training should be part of your 2012 fitness routine. Grab a post-it and write “sarcopenia” on it and stick it on your bathroom mirror.
See you at the gym.
Cord Prettyman is a certified Master Personal Trainer and owner of Absolute Workout Fitness and Post-Re-hab Studio in Woodland Park. He can be reached at 687-7437 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.