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Feature Articles: Exercise


Woman lifting weightsStrength train to stay healthy

Tammy Roberts, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Bates County, University of Missouri Extension


When many of us hear the term strength training, we think of the football player working out on heavy weight machines to build large muscles. Football players do benefit from strength training but so can the rest of us. Strength training is something most people can do and the benefit is that your body will be at peak physical performance.


As we age, we worry about the ability to just perform the activities of daily living such as putting groceries away, mowing the yard or sweeping the floor. According to Dr. Miriam Nelson of Tufts University, strength training is a “powerful antidote” to the loss of muscle mass and the development of chronic diseases that are associated with aging.


In her Strong Women Program, Dr. Nelson describes several benefits of weight training. They include:


  • Arthritis Relief — People who participated in a 16-week strength training program reported a decrease in pain and an increase in strength.
  • Reduction of Falls — As we age, we lose our balance which can contribute to falls and broken bones. Strength training can help increase our sense of balance.
  • Bone Density — Strength training helps to increase bone density and prevent osteoporosis.
  • Weight Management — When you build muscle you are building your body’s ability to burn calories. Muscles burn more calories than fat.
  • Improved Glucose Control — Studies have shown that persons with diabetes who participated in 16 weeks of strength training had improvements in blood glucose control.
  • Reduce Risk for Heart Disease — Cardiac patients gain strength, flexibility and aerobic capacity when they participate in strength training three times per week.
  • Sleep Improvement — People who exercise regularly fall asleep more quickly, sleep more deeply, awaken less often and sleep longer than those who do not.


Usually, people notice an improvement in strength and flexibility after just eight weeks of exercising for one hour, two or three times per week. If you are interested in doing strength training, discuss it with your physician before starting any program. If you are interested in strength training classes, contact your local fitness facility. It can be fun and motivating to exercise with other people.


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Last update: Thursday, July 13, 2017