December 10, 2017
The end of the year is approaching, and with it comes our annual New Year’s resolutions.
Most of us pledge to get in better shape during the next 12 months. Yet, despite the sincerity of those promises, we always find excuses to avoid work on our fitness goals.
The most common of those is lack of time. Or no gym membership. Or not knowing how to use weight machines.
If there was a method that was completely free, totally accessible no matter where you are and proven to benefit your sleep, metabolism, bones, immunity and mood wouldn’t you be willing to give it a try?
The good news is that it’s out there. What is it? Body weight exercise.
Body weight exercise is customizable and can be done anywhere and at any time. Better yet, it requires no equipment or gym membership and takes less than 30 minutes.
Exercise is important at any age. It seems the older we get, the more important it becomes.
Americans lose an average of more than six pounds of lean muscle mass for each decade of life. Researchers estimate our metabolic rate decreases 3 percent to eight percent each decade after we turn 20. Most of that can be attributed to a natural decrease in muscle mass.
The best way to combat that decline is to work at building more muscle mass. For most of us, that means lifting weights—stressing your body with heavy loads makes it stronger.
However, weights aren’t the only way to accomplish that goal. We can gain muscle mass no matter what provides the weight, whether it is a dumbbell, weights on a machine or our very own bodies.
Aerobic exercises provide fitness benefits, but building muscle is equally important and often overlooked.
Body weight exercise is a type of strength training that helps rebuild muscle wear and tear that develops as we age. There are other benefits to adding muscle. Studies show that building lean muscle mass also benefits your heart, blood vessels, lungs, hormone production and even brain activity.
What can body weight exercise do for you?
Another less-known benefit of strength training is that it can reverse the negative effects that chronic dieting or “yoyo dieting,” can have on the body.
Sure, diets are supposed to help you reduce weight and make you healthier. However, constant dieting can cause the loss of muscle tissue from both dieting and aging. That’s a onetwo punch we all need to avoid as we get older.
If your aim is to become a body builder, body weight exercises may be a good addition to your routine, but you’ll need to hit the gym to achieve your goals. If your goal is to improve your marathon time, again, body weight exercises would be a good supplement to your training routine, but your emphasis would be on aerobic/anaerobic exercise.
For most of us, who need to improve our fitness and our health, body weight exercises are a good option.
“You need to consider your goals and what you what to accomplish,” said Robyn Kadel, of the Wichita State Sports Medicine Department.
“Body weight exercises are safe and convenient,” Kadel said. “There is such a big spectrum of body weight exercises, I think they can be a part of everyone’s workout.”
They key for body weight exercises, like weight training routines, is technique.
“The important thing is having a balanced workout and good technique,” Kadel said. “Those are the two most important things when you’re doing any type of workout.”
Kadel said if you can’t do an exercise with good technique, go down in weight. If you’re doing a workout with pushups, you need to balance it out by doing pullups.
“Balance is very important,” Kadel said.
Adding muscle mass is important because muscle is an active tissue requiring more calories to be sustained than fat.
So, it’s important to work out. But how much exercise is enough?
Most fitness experts say performing strength-training exercise at least two to three times per week is adequate. Each of those workouts, however, should be a full-body workout.
Each workout should use multiple big muscle groups (back, legs, chest and core) to get the most out of the session. For each strength workout, aim to do eight to 10 different exercises, varying the muscles that each one targets. Each exercise is done in one set, and within each set, you should perform eight to 20 repetitions, depending on your level of fitness.
Another important facet of fitness is stretching. Being flexible makes us stronger and reduces the chance for injury and also increases range of motion while reducing recovery time.
The efficient and most beneficial way to workout is to integrate exercises that build strength all over, by doing moves that use more than one muscle group—exercises like push-ups, squats or burpees.
Fitness experts advise keeping things simple and time efficient at first, because the more convenient your exercise routine is, the more likely you are to stick with it.
Pick the exercises for your routine and go through the circuit. You can repeat the circuit if you are in good enough shape. If not, that’s a goal to work toward. Always maintain proper form.
Ideally, you can alternate days of body weight exercise with cardio work. This allows the body time for muscle recovery.
Many ask if body weight exercises will help with weight loss. The answer to that question is a definite maybe.
Body weight exercises will grow muscle, which will increase weight. However, the increased muscle will burn more calories, which can lead to weight loss.
The bottom line on body weight exercises is that whether or not you lose weight, your body is benefitting in many different ways.
And the result is that you will be healthier for doing them.
Exercise is important at any age. It seems the older we get, the more important it becomes. Americans lose an average of more than six pounds of lean muscle mass for each decade of life.