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Stronger next year

Stronger next year

As you know, at the beginning of every year I set a goal for myself. I would say I’m mostly successful – though by no means 100%. Eating well is a given and I’m really pretty good at that. I have stuck with my exercise routine and go for my 5k walk/run every day, and I often (though admittedly not daily) try to say something nice to a stranger. But I continue to struggle with drinking enough water (kidney stone adventure and all!) which is amazing to me since I know better. I’m recommitting to that this year. 

I’m also committing to resistance training.

As I reflect upon my physical state, I can say I’m reasonably fit from a cardiovascular perspective and I’m also fairly flexible. What I’m NOT is strong.  And muscle loss is a real issue for those of us who are middle-aged, accelerating significantly after the fifth decade of life.  

My goal is not to become a body builder or bench press my body weight. I’m pursuing resistance training to enhance physical resilience.  One thing that I learned when I became a patient is that physical resilience is critical when facing a health challenge.  We can all recover faster, heal better and be much more likely to get back to full function after an illness or operation if we are physically strong coming into a health event. 

Resistance training has multiple benefits. A muscular body is good for weight maintenance and control. Pound for pound, you burn calories faster if your weight is made up of muscle rather than fat. Regular resistance training has also been shown to help lower blood pressure and yield a more favorable cholesterol profile, especially higher levels of HDL (good) cholesterol. It’s also associated with a lower risk of developing insulin resistance and diabetes.  As someone who is short and thin, I’m at higher risk of developing osteoporosis.  Turns out, just like with weightbearing exercise, strength training can reduce my osteoporosis risk as well. 

I haven’t settled on a routine or approach to all this yet, but that’s OK. You don’t have to start on January 1 or be immediately engaged in your health goal to attain it. Knowing myself, I will probably need the help of a gym or trainer to keep me accountable and on task, especially to start.  But I’ve also found lots of online “get started at home” resources like this one that appear completely reasonable and approachable.  Again – I’m not going for Olympic gold.  I’m going for better muscular tone and general health.

I hope you’ve set a realistic health goal for yourself for the new year already.  But if you haven’t, besides always aiming to do your best on the nutrition front, maybe strength training could help you too!  As for me, I’ll report back in a year.  Maybe even with some before and after photos (!). Yikes.

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