Health Hub

by Robin Gaudette

Unless you have a weight set or a machine at home, visiting a gym is the only way to reap the benefits of weightlifting or resistance training.

And the results are in — weightlifting has many more benefits than turning you into the Incredible Hulk. Astounding studies are confirming many metabolic benefits from increasing muscle mass and strength. Weight training actually changes body metabolism to improve health and wellness.

Here is a glimpse into what the industry is learning:

Diabetes mellitus type 2 is characterized by the body’s inability to respond to insulin in the blood stream. Approximately 30.3 million Americans have diabetes, 90-95% of those are type 2 diabetics. A quarter of people 65 or older have type 2 diabetes.

Resistance training will increase lean mass, which may decrease the visceral fat surrounding the organs, thus decreasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Resistance training also decreases A1C levels in diabetic adults.

Studies have shown an improvement in glucose clearance and insulin sensitivity, with ongoing weight training. The American Diabetes Association recommends an eight-to-10 exercise total body program, starting with one-to-three sets of 10-15 reps, with progression, two-to-three days per week.

High blood cholesterol increases the risk for strokes and cardiovascular disease. Approximately 95 million U.S. adults over age 20 have blood cholesterol higher than 200 milligrams per deciliter. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 7% of young people under 19 have high blood cholesterol. Combining aerobic exercise and weight training has a profound effect on lowering total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and blood fats, while raising their HDL, or good cholesterol.

Researchers suggest combining weight training, focusing on increasing volume, not intensity and aerobic exercise, is a blend that supports improving this risk factor.

Obesity across the age range is a risk factor that carries many implications for numerous diseases. Approximately 39% of Americans have obesity — 43% of adults aged 40-59 and 18% of children aged 6-11 are obese.

Resistance programs can boost lean mass a minimum of 2.2-4.4 pounds and reduce visceral fat. This type of fat, when excessive, is linked to the development of increased cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Resting metabolic rate is the measurement of the calories burned at rest. This number represents 50-75% of the daily caloric expenditure, which maintains all of the body’s ongoing functions. Lean mass is biologically more active than fat, combined with energy consumed after an exercise bout to return the body to the pre-exercise state, raises the body’s metabolic rate.

Weightlifting and increasing muscle mass causes the body, over time, to gradually increase the resting metabolic rate, which increases the caloric usage at rest assisting in weight loss.

Cardiorespiratory health and fitness is an important marker in many chronic diseases. Some research has shown weight training to have a positive influence on cardiorespiratory performance. Maximal oxygen consumption, how efficiently our body delivers oxygen to working muscles, improved an average of 9.7% with a circuit-style weight training program. A circuit is six-to10 exercises repeated in order, 12-15 repetitions of moderate intensity at least twice through.

Strong evidence that weight training can make changes on the cellular level to positively affect metabolic processes is exciting. Access to weights and machines, classes and trainers at Redmond Area Park and Recreation and our local gyms is a short drive to better overall health.

Let’s do this thing!

— Robin Gaudette is the aquatics wellness coordinator at the Redmond Area Park and Recreation District. Contact her at robin.gaudette@raprd.org .

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