Another New Year’s Eve has passed and with that comes New Year’s resolutions. Losing weight and getting in shape are both among the top changes people want to make in their lives. The two are often interchangeable. If you get in shape, you will probably also lose weight. Conversely, if you lose weight, you’ll most likely also be in better shape. Three factors are crucial for efficient weight loss:
1. Diet. Unless you’re already very slender and are only looking to get more toned, you’ll need to think about what you’re eating. Most people don’t have time to spend several hours working out every day nor is it recommended as it will eventually lead to overuse injuries. You must work out smart to avoid injuries.
2. Cardio. Running, power walking, spinning, using the elliptical are but some examples of cardio (cardiovascular exercise). The heavier you are, the more cardio you should do. For example, a 35-year-old, six-foot tall man who weighs 300 pounds should do more cardio than a man of the same age and height who weighs 210 pounds.
3. Build muscle all over your body. The older you are, the more you should focus on building muscle. After about age 30, your muscles will start to atrophy, especially if you are inactive. Physically inactive people can lose as much as 3% to 5% of their muscle mass per decade after age 30, according to WebMD. Even if you are active, you will still experience some muscle loss. You build muscle by engaging in resistance training, a.k.a. strength training. The reason you want as much muscle as possible is because being more muscular will increase your metabolism. Also, if you want a toned, firm look—um, who doesn’t?—you must build muscle. Read this great article from the Mayo Clinic about why building muscle is so important for weight loss (and learn lots about metabolism).
Strength training has many, many benefits. Here is a slew of reasons why you must include muscle-building exercise into your workout regimen. (At the bottom of this article you’ll find links to several reputable sources that support my assertions.):
– Builds your bones. By stressing your bones, you will increase bone density and steer clear of osteoporosis. This is especially important for women.
– Helps you MAINTAIN your weight. You may have lost lots of weight through dieting and cardio, but if you have little muscle, it’s almost always only a matter of time before you’ll gain it all back. Few people can sustain starving themselves for prolonged periods of time nor is it healthy or fun.
– Improves your balance, which will help you avoid falls and injuries.
-Increases your stamina. As you get stronger, you won’t fatigue as easily, which in turn will help you do more intense cardio that will burn more calories. (See how it all works together?) Interval cardio training is especially effective to burn calories, but you must have a good foundation—stamina—before you engage in this activity.
-Helps you maintain and even increase joint mobility. This is especially true if you do multi-joint strength exercises.
-Makes you smarter and helps you sleep better.
-Improves high blood pressure, depression, heart disease, diabetes, and back pain.
-It will make you a better athlete as it will improve your coordination.
-Being strong makes you look younger and more alive. It makes old injuries and arthritis easier to deal with. It’s feels great to be strong!
Check out the following articles I used to write this article: Emedicine Health (Why do Resistance Exercise), Mayo Clinic (Get stronger, leaner, healthier), Nursing Education (The Importance of Strength Training), Sparkpeople (Why Strength Training is a Must for Everyone), About.com (Top Ten Reasons to Lift Weights).
Finally, check out this great article about Four Common Strength Training Mistakes. See you in the weight room!