Packing on pounds might not seem like part of a healthy lifestyle, but that's only if you're talking about adding weight to your body. When you're thinking about adding weight training to your exercise routine, it's actually a very positive step.
There are two distinct types of exercise – cardio and weight training – and both should be part of your regular routine, according to Stacie McCarthy, EP, MS, an exercise physiologist with the Care New England Wellness Center.
Cardio training, also known as aerobic exercise, gives your cardiovascular system a workout. Aerobic means "with oxygen," so when you exercise aerobically by walking, running, biking or using the elliptical machine, your body uses oxygen to help produce energy. Your heart and lungs work harder to continuously deliver oxygen to your body which, in turn, strengthens them. Guidelines from the federal Centers for Disease Control and the Mayo Clinic recommend we get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week.
Many people take their regular walks or swim laps religiously in the pool, unaware that their exercise regime is missing a crucial component, McCarthy explains. That component would be strength or weight training two to three times a week.
"It's not strength training versus cardio training," she says, "it's strength training AND cardio training."
Basic strength training increases muscle mass. It's usually anaerobic exercise, which means it does not require an additional intake of oxygen, but this type of training converts body fat into lean body mass. This elevates your metabolism, which allows you to burn more calories. In addition, strength training can be very powerful in reducing the signs and symptoms of such chronic conditions as arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity and back pain.
To get started, McCarthy recommends you interview an exercise facility before signing a contract.
"Ask what the staff's credentials are. You preferably want a facility with an exercise physiologist or a personal trainer certified by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), American Council on Exercise (ACE) or National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)," she says. "Tour the facility and ask questions."
Other options include having the exercise physiologist at the Care New England Wellness Center create an exercise prescription so you can work out safely at home.
"Strength training, in conjunction with regular aerobic exercise, can have a profound impact on a person's mental and emotional health," McCarthy says. "Remember, 'Exercise is Medicine' is not just a slogan, it is a fact."
For information on the facilities and programs available at the Care New England Wellness Center, call (401) 732-3066.
Back to the CNE Talks Your Health eNewsletter