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Benefits of Resistance Exercise

The American Heart Association recommends that “accumulating evidence suggests resistance training is a safe and effective approach for improving cardiovascular health in adults with and without cardiovascular disease. Resistance training not only can improve or maintain muscle mass and strength, but also has favorable physiological and clinical effects on cardiovascular disease and risk factors.”

Exercising in Cold Weather

Heart attacks and strokes are associated with high blood pressure and increased clotting, and systolic blood pressure increases up to 1.7 mm Hg in the winter months compared to the summer months.  Cold weather is associated with an increased incidence of heart attacks. If you have heart or lung disease, you are far more likely to die in cold weather than in the heat

How to Start an Exercise Program

If you want to become fit and use exercise to help prevent a heart attack, first check with your doctor to make sure that you do not have anything wrong with your heart or blood vessels. Intense exercise can increase your risk for a heart attack if you already have a damaged heart.

Low Vitamin D Increases Risk for Sports Injuries

If you suffer muscle or tendon injuries, particularly during the winter or early spring, ask your doctor to order a blood test for hydroxy vitamin D. If it is below 30 ng/mL, you probably need more exposure to sunlight or you need to take vitamin D pills.   A review of sports injuries showed that lack of vitamin D can be a major cause of recurrent winter-time injuries in athletes and exercisers

How Exercise May Help to Prevent Cancer

A new study from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center found a potential mechanism through which intense exercise can help to prevent cancer. Lynch Syndrome is a hereditary condition that affects more than a million North Americans, and puts these men and women at an 80 percent chance of developing colon cancer at a very young age, and the women at a 60 percent chance of developing endometrial cancer.

Running is an Effective Treatment for Depression

A new study supports several previous studies showing that running is as effective as anti-depressant drugs in treating depression and anxiety, and offers far more health benefits than drugs do. The study included 141 participants, average age 38, in which 45 participants received the antidepressant medication Lexapro (escitalopram), and 96 underwent 16 weeks of supervised 45-minute outdoor running sessions recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the American College of Sports Medicine.

All Exercise Can Help to Lower High Blood Pressure

A review of 270 controlled studies with a total of 15,827 participants found that all forms of exercise can help to lower high blood pressure: aerobic exercise, resistance strength training, combined aerobic and resistance training, high-intensity interval training and isometric exercise training. Surprisingly, isometric exercise training was found to be the most effective way to lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

Strength Training May Be More Effective than Aerobic Exercise to Help Prevent Heart Attacks

Several recent studies show that resistance training for strength may be more effective than aerobic exercise, such as jogging or walking, to help prevent high blood pressure and heart attacks. This may surprise you because many champion body builders and weight lifters have died at very young ages from heart attacks, but the causes of these deaths are likely to have been their use of hormones such as anabolic steroids, growth hormones and insulin.

Weak Muscles Predict Dementia

A study of 1275 people found that those who had very weak hand grip strength had signs of accelerated aging, as measured by deterioration of the DNA in their cells. The authors of this study cited earlier studies showing that grip strength appears to be a better predictor of life expectancy than blood pressure.

Being Active Can Help to Prevent Cancer

It is established that a regular exercise program is associated with reduced incidence of heart attacks and some types of cancers. Several recent studies show that you don’t have to have a formal exercise program to gain these benefits. Just being active is also associated with reduced likelihood for certain cancers. You can stay active by climbing stairs, mowing your own lawn, washing your dishes and so forth, Just keep on moving -- don’t sit in a chair or lie in bed all day long.

Lifting Weights Helps to Lower High Blood Pressure

Researchers have known for a long time that regular aerobic exercises like walking, jogging or cycling help to lower high blood pressure and also help to prevent strokes and heart attacks. However, there is data to show that a person can suffer a stroke or heart attack while lifting heavy weights because during heavy lifting, high blood pressure rises even higher. Many doctors recommend resistance exercises to help treat high blood pressure, but people with high blood pressure need to be very careful if they try to lift heavy weights.

Exercise Helps to Prevent Dementia

About 22 percent of North Americans ages 85-89 and 33 percent of those over 90 suffer some degree of dementia (JAMA Neurol, 2022;79(12):1242-1249). The risk for dementia can be reduced significantly by exercising and lowering high blood sugar levels, maintaining a healthful weight, and avoiding smoking. Two recent studies show that exercise may be even more important in reducing Alzheimer’s disease risk.

High Fitness Level Linked to Reduced Risk for Cancers

A study that followed 170,000 Swedish men (average age 62) for 9.6 years found that high levels of physical fitness were associated with a markedly reduced risk for lung cancer or colon cancer, and reduced risk for death from cancers of the colon, lung or prostate. Physical fitness was measured by having the subjects exercise vigorously on a stationary bicycle to determine the maximal amount of oxygen they could use (VO2max).

How Fast Do You Lose Fitness When You Stop Exercising?

A review of 31 published studies found that the COVID-19 epidemic has forced many people to stop exercising, which will increase their risk for several diseases that can shorten their lives. COVID-19 is caught mainly by breathing indoor air where people congregate, so the epidemic stopped many people from going to gyms or practicing sports indoors.

Elastic Resistance Bands Can Make You As Strong As Lifting Weights

Scientists reviewed studies on elastic resistance bands, and concluded that strength training with elastic bands could cause the same gain in strength as lifting heavy weights for both the upper and the lower body. Training in the studies ranged from 2-5 times a week for 4-12 weeks.

Basic Resistance Band Training

Start your introduction to resistance band training by first reading a prior article on this site about resistance training. The same principles apply but now the implement is resistance bands and not free weights or machines. And, resistance bands can be an effective implement with the added benefits of low cost, convenience, and the ability to resistance train virtually anywhere at any time.

Both Lifting Weights and Exercising Intensely Help to Prolong Lives

Scientific studies firmly establish that a regular exercise program can help to prolong your life. Recent studies show that older adults who lift weights are up to 22 percent less likely to die from any cause, heart attacks or cancer than people who do not lift weights. Those who both lift weights and participate in an aerobic exercise program had the lowest death risk of all.

Keep On Moving to Prolong Your Life

People who walked at least 8,000 steps per day just one or two days a week had a 15 percent lower death rate over the next 10 years, when compared to people who walked less than that. People who had 3-7 days with 8,000 steps or more had an additional reduction in death rate. This suggests that moving around helps to prolong your life, even if you don’t have an organized exercise program.

Time-Restricted Eating for Serious Exercisers

Several recent research papers have found that time-restricted eating can help to prevent diabetes and heart attacks and prolong life. However, some people express concern that athletes and regular exercisers may develop low blood sugar and lose muscle if they go on a schedule of not eating for intermittent periods such as 6PM to 6AM. An exciting study now shows that time-restricted eating can improve health in serious athletes and may even help them to improve running performance by helping them to lose excess body fat.

Physical Activity to Help Prevent Diseases and Dementia

Three recent studies show that being active and moving about helps to prolong life and to prevent disease, hospitalization, and dementia. A study of 81,717 men and women, 42-78 years of age, measured their physical activity by having them wear an accelerometer for a week at a time over an average of 6.8 years. Those who increased their moderate to vigorous physical activity by 20 minutes per day were at reduced incidence of hospitalization for nine of the 25 most common reasons for hospitalization.

Exercise to Help Prevent Infections

Regular exercise can potentially help to protect you from infections such as COVID-19, as long as you don’t exercise too much. In one study, compared to people who did not exercise regularly, those who exercised had a reduced risk of becoming infected by COVID-19. They had a 36 percent reduced risk of hospitalization from severe COVID-19 and a 43 percent reduced risk of death from COVID-19. Those who followed guidelines recommending at least 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week gained the most protection against COVID-19, but exercising regularly at less than that appeared also to help protect against infection.

Weak Muscles Predict Accelerated Aging, Disability and Death

A study of 1,275 men and women found that those who had very weak handgrip strength had signs of accelerated aging, as measured by deterioration of the DNA in their cells. The authors of this study cited earlier studies showing that grip strength appears to be a better predictor of life expectancy than blood pressure. Many other studies show that having weak muscles is associated with a host of diseases and premature death.

Benefit from a Few Minutes of Vigorous Activity Each Day

You may be able to prolong your life just by moving more vigorously a few times a day. Australian researchers found that non-exercisers who had 3-4 short bouts of vigorous activity each day had a 40 percent reduction in all-cause death rate, a 40 percent reduction in cancer-related deaths, and up to a 49 percent reduction in heart attack deaths.

Lack of Exercise is Worse Than Prolonged Sitting

A recent study followed 105,677 participants from 21 countries for an average of 11 years, and found that those who sat for 6-8 hours a day had a 13 percent increased risk for early death and heart disease, while those who sat for more than eight hours a day had a 20 percent increased risk. Furthermore, those who sat the most and exercised the least had a 50 percent increased risk, while those who sat the most and exercised the most had only a 17 per cent increased risk.

Eating Carbohydrates Before Lifting Weights Can Help You Lift Heavier Weights

It is well known that taking carbohydrates before and during endurance exercise helps to increase both speed and endurance. It is not as well known that taking carbohydrates before and during resistance training for strength can increase intensity and duration of workouts. A review of 21 randomized controlled studies that included 226 young adults found that taking carbohydrates before or during lifting weights increased training volume, and caused higher peak blood lactic acid and sugar levels

Second Wind

Second wind means that when you run very fast, you reach a point where you gasp for breath and your muscles burn so much that you feel like you have to slow down, but you try to keep on pushing. After several seconds, you feel recovered and pick up the pace.

Keep Your Muscles Strong As You Age

A review of 16 major studies found that just thirty minutes a week of strength training is associated with up to a 20 percent reduced risk for dying from any cause, or from cancer, heart disease or diabetes. Adding aerobic exercise reduced risk for dying by 40 percent. The World Health Organization recommends at least two days a week of muscle-strengthening activities for adults because having larger and stronger muscles appears to help prevent many diseases and prolong lives.

Being Physically Active Helps to Prevent Heart Attacks and Some Cancers

A prospective study of 78,500 men and women, ages 40-79, used wrist accelerometers to see whether daily step counts and measurements of intensity would predict future heart attacks or cancers. They were followed for an average of seven years, and during that period, there were 10,245 heart attacks, 664 deaths from heart attacks, 2813 cancers and 1325 deaths from cancer.

Late Afternoon Exercise Helps to Control Blood Sugar, Cholesterol and Triglycerides

A study from Japan found that exercising in the late afternoon (4-6 PM) helps to control blood sugar, cholesterol and triglyceride levels better than exercising in the morning (9-11 AM).

Physical Activity and Longevity

Four interesting studies supporting the benefits of physical activity have appeared in recent medical journals.