If you’re in the habit of doing a 20- to 30-minute brisk walk or another moderate exercise most days of the week, that’s fantastic. But many people neglect the federal Physical Activity Guidelines recommendation for Americans to do muscle-strengthening exercises at least two days a week.
While the guidelines don’t suggest a specific amount of time to spend on this effort, evidence from a new study suggests that 30 to 60 minutes per week is a good goal. Published Feb. 28, 2022, in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the study pooled data from 16 earlier studies to explore how different types of exercise might affect longevity and the risk of dying from heart disease or other health conditions.
Compared with people who did no strength training, the researchers found that those who did a half-hour to one full hour of muscle-building exercises per week had a 10% to 17% reduction in the risk of early death. Strength training benefits strength training improves health problems that contribute to heart disease risk, says Dr. Beth Frates, clinical assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School.
“In one of the long-term studies included in this analysis, researchers found that regular strength training lowered the risk of high blood pressure by 32% and the risk of metabolic syndrome by 29%,” she says. People with metabolic syndrome have at least three of these five problems: obesity, high blood triglycerides, low HDL (good) cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar.
Don’t assume you need to join a gym or buy weights to boost your strength. Body-weight exercises, in which you use your body itself as weight, can be an especially convenient way to build muscle strength. They include challenging exercises such as pull-ups and planks, but also less intense ones, such as lunges and modified push-ups (see photos below for examples).
Exercises you can do anywhere “You can do body-weight exercises practically anywhere—in the kitchen waiting for water to boil in your living room watching your favorite show, or at the park watching your grandkids play,” says Dr. Frates. Ideally, you should try to hit all the major muscle groups in your legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms.
If you’re new to this type of exercise, it’s best to find a supervised program through a senior center, at a health club, or with a physical therapist—to learn proper form, which is key to avoiding injury. Check with your doctor first if you have heart disease.
Bible verses for today’s meditation and inspiration: Matthew E. McLaren
2 Corinthians 13:9 For we rejoice when we ourselves are weak but you are strong; this we also pray for, that you be made complete.
Colossians 1:28 We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.
Colossians 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God.
2 Corinthians 10:15-16 not boasting beyond our measure, that is, in other men’s labors, but with the hope that as your faith grows, we will be, within our sphere, enlarged even more by you, so as to preach the gospel even to the regions beyond you, and not to boast in what has been accomplished in the sphere of another.
2 Thessalonians 1:3 We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater;
2 Peter 3:18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
Ephesians 1:17-18 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you will know what the hope of His calling is, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
Ephesians 3:16-19 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, read more
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