My patients who are trying to lose weight always ask me what’s the best exercise for them.
My answer is consistent; the best exercise is the one you enjoy doing and can fit most easily into your lifestyle.
But the truth is that a sound exercise or physical activity program is not just one thing.
Though you may start out with doing aerobic exercise like a brisk walking program or biking, I encourage most patients to work on progressing their program to include resistance training too.
A newly published research study gives more reasons to include resistance exercises in your program as this may help prevent obesity.
In the study, resistance exercise was associated with a reduced risk of obesity defined by body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and percent body fat.
If you’ve been considering adding resistance exercises to your physical activity program and you want to do so safely, here are some of the basics to help guide you:
1 – What is resistance training?
Resistance training or muscle strengthening exercise is any activity that uses repeated movements against low or moderate resistance to make your muscles work harder.
This can be done using your own body weight, resistance bands, free weights or machines.
2 – How does it help?
Resistance training builds, tones and maintains muscular strength, improves function and ability to perform activities of daily living and increases metabolism by building lean body mass.
3 – Where is it done?
Resistance training can be done at home, a health club or even while traveling.
4 – How often is it recommended?
At least 2 nonconsecutive days per week.
One set of 8 to 12 repetitions of each exercise is effective, although, 2-3 sets may be more effective.
5 – Any special considerations?
If you’re new to resistance training and especially if you have a chronic health condition, it’s always prudent to consult with a physical therapist or personal trainer to help you develop a program that’s safe for you.
You can contact physical therapy companies in your community to see what’s required to get started.
Many physical therapy centers offer ‘free screen’ appointments where you don’t need a doctor’s order to be evaluated for treatment. This can vary state to state.
If you want to work with a personal fitness trainer, choose one that is certified by a national organization, such as the American Council on Exercise, the American College of Sports Medicine, or the National Council on Strength and Fitness.
In addition to doing regular aerobics and resistance training, adding ‘exercise snacks’ to your daily routine can also help improve metabolic health.
Robert Kushner, MD