Many Americans are aware that about two hours and 30 minutes of exercise each week is necessary to stay healthy, and many of those individuals choose an aerobic activity, such as running or biking. However, recent research has shown that splitting your two hours and 30 minutes of exercise between varied activities—aerobic and muscle—strengthening-improves health the most.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, adults should aim to do muscle-strengthening activities, such as weightlifting, at least two times a week. Right now, only about 1 out of every 3 adults meets this goal.
A common misconception that many people have is that muscle-strengthening activities are more suited for men, which may stem from the misguided belief that women will "bulk up" too much from that type of exercise. However, women generally do not have the same level of anabolic hormones, which is what causes men to build larger muscles more easily.
In fact, muscle-strengthening activities are extremely important for women to engage in because they are more likely to develop problems with their bones and joints as they age. Increasing muscle strength—through weightlifting or other resistance training—can help prevent those problems.
Resistance training can also help with the following:
- Increasing flexibility and balance, which decreases the number and severity of falls a person may experience as he or she ages
- Maintaining proper weight, as people who have more muscle mass have a higher metabolism—sometimes up to 15 percent higher
Before beginning a new exercise routine or changing up an old one, speak to a medical professional to ensure you are healthy enough. And remember that commitment to a regular physical activity program is more important than the intensity of your workouts, so be sure to choose muscle-strengthening exercises you enjoy.