By Rick Halle-Podell, Licensed Massage Therapist, Founder of Massage Therapy of Oak Park

In recent years, research has clearly documented the benefits of weight lifting for all age groups, men and women alike. Inactivity results in a 1/3 loss of muscle between ages 35 and 80. Until recently, aging was blamed for all the health problems we experience as we become older. Although aging is a contributing factor, inactivity is not perceived as the primary cause of aging.

Weight Training Doesn’t Have to Include Heavy Weights

The goals of weight training are to regain your strength and muscle tone, while increasing your energy—not necessarily to be able to lift a car! Toned muscles increase your metabolic rate. It’s a scientific fact that lean tissue burns more fuel and does it efficiently. Weight training aids you in aerobic activities, making them easier and more enjoyable to perform. Muscles that are exercised and strengthened regularly can support us in our increasingly sedentary jobs. Strong abdominal and back muscles prevent bad posture while sitting, greatly reducing the duration and frequency of back pain episodes.

Pump Free-Weights or Pump Machines?

Free-weights are readily available for home or health club use. They’re affordable and easy to use. As a rule, machines are found in health clubs, although there are some units designed for home use. The benefits of machines include the ability to isolate muscles and do your workouts sitting down. Choose the approach you will most likely stick with and look forward to feeling fit, youth and alive again.

Before starting an exercise program, consult your doctor as to the pace and frequency. When beginning an exercise program, some soreness is normal. Be prepared for soreness to show up 24-48 hours later. This phenomenon is known as delayed muscle soreness. Plan ahead and make an appointment for a massage before, during and after you start your exercise program to minimize soreness and increase performance.

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