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Don’t Resist Your Resistance Exercise

Posted By Joseph Ihm, MD

Body

With many of you spending the majority of time in your homes or apartments, some have become anxious to start or resume resistance exercise. However, it is important to maintain your resistance exercises as they:

  • Prevent injuries
  • Improve performance 
  • Reduce the risk of CAD, diabetes and colon cancer
  • Prevent osteoporosis
  • Improve function
  • Foster psychological well-being

Personally, I have been weight training for more than 30 years and continue to weight train weekly. My bachelor’s degree is in exercise physiology, and I was a personal trainer teaching weight training until I began my third year of medical school.

What is resistance exercise? 

Resistance exercise is an activity or movement that causes a muscle or group of muscles to contract against a weight or other forms of resistance including your body weight, gravity, or bands.  Strength, power, or muscular endurance is usually the goal of performing resistance exercises, and these types of exercises typically fatigue a muscle within 1-3 minutes.

Who should do it?
Resistance exercise is recommended for all children over the age of 6 and all adults. Weight training can help with weight maintenance and can attenuate, or reduce the effect of, the loss of muscle mass that comes with aging.  We lose about 8-10% of muscle mass per decade once we hit age 40 but it is important to stay strong as we age.

What is a good exercise format?

I would recommend a minimum of twice per week on nonconsecutive days, exercising the entire body using 8-10 exercises.  Each exercise should be done for 2-3 sets and for 8-12 repetitions.  

Here are four ways to maintain your resistance routine in your home:

  1. With weights. Whether you use dumbbells or getting more creative, weights are a traditional form of resistance training.
  2. Using Resistance bands.  There are several brands of resistance bands available online.  These are a great value and easy to travel with -- I have used these when on vacation and there is no gym within 100 miles. Some sets allow you to get up to 100lbs or more of resistance using just the bands. Most just need a door that closes firmly to serve as the anchor. 
  3. Focusing on your bodyweight.  There are several ways to get a reasonable workout just using one’s bodyweight.  Check out this lunchtime workout routine for some ideas.

I hope these options provide you with the tools you need to stay active and fit.  You can definitely keep fit with resistance exercises in the home.  Exercise is Medicine is an initiative by the American College of Sports Medicine, and it has published a brief fact sheet during the COVID-19 outbreak to provide guidance on staying active. (attached is the PDF of the handout.)

Additional resource guidelines for physical activity and health can be found here

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