How Regular Strength Training Can Keep You Fit and Healthy
Regular Strength training to maintain health and fitness is something we’ve been advocating for a long time. So we were thrilled when the UK’s Chief Medical Officer released the Physical Activity Guidelines, which included the recommendation that adults should lift weights twice a week.
Regular Strength Training Delays the Decline in Muscle Mass
The report, which the government released in September 2019, is put together by some of the UK’s top doctors. In it, they state that regular strength training can help delay the decline in bone density and muscle mass that starts in all humans from around the age of 50. This decline is considered the primary reason why older people lose the ability to perform daily tasks.
The report suggests exercises including weight lifting and using resistance machines. Other recommendations cover more day to day activities such as heavy gardening or carrying heavy shopping. The guidelines state that tasks should be repeated until the muscles feel tired and unable to continue the exercise until they’ve been rested.
The new guidelines also provide advice for the over 65’s. It suggests activities that will help maintain muscle strength as well as balance and flexibility. By looking after these areas, the chance of falling, which is the main cause of admissions into A&E for this age group, is reduced. Some of the activities highlighted are bowls, tai-chi and dancing.
Avoid Sitting for Long Periods
Sitting for prolonged periods is a relatively new phenomenon for humans. It’s only in the last 100 years that large numbers of us have moved from manual jobs to desk-based activity. As well as sitting at work, we sit while driving, sit while eating and sit when relaxing. Humans are not designed to sit for long periods of time, and the report highlights how harmful this can be.
Professor Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer for England, states that regular physical activity has a wide range of health benefits for all ages.
“By keeping active, both throughout the day and also through hobbies, we can slow muscle and bone decline. Ultimately keeping us independent for longer.”
Pregnant Women Can Benefit from Strength Training
The report also includes advice for pregnant women for the first time as well as people with disabilities.
Regular exercise, including strength training, can be beneficial to women both during and after pregnancy. Reduced hypertension, lower gestational weight gain and improved cardiorespiratory fitness are just some of the advantages that exercise can deliver.
Adults with disabilities can also gain the same benefits from strength training and exercise as those without disabilities. The report says “any myths about physical activity being inherently harmful to disabled people should be dispelled”.
What Type of Training Does the Report Recommend
The guidelines say that regular strength training should be carried out at least twice weekly for all adults. It also recommends high-intensity interval training (know as HIIT) as being as effective, if not more so, than longer periods of moderate exercise. The report doesn’t say what level of high-intensity training is best as more research is needed in this area.
Every week adults need to exercise for at least 150 minutes at a moderate level or 75 minutes at a vigours level. This time can be concentrated into one of two sessions per week rather than spread out across a whole week as previously suggested.
The big change in this report versus previous iterations is the emphasis that is placed on strength training. Previously, the advice was largely based around cardiovascular exercise. While this is still an important element of the suggested activity, it needs to be balanced with regular strength work.
If you want to start a regular fitness program which incorporates strength training, then our team of personal trainers are here to help. We work with people at all fitness levels and abilities. Whether you are a complete beginner or want to take your training to the next level, please get in touch.