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Staying Fit: Rich Weil, MEd, CDE

Make the most of your fitness activities

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In addition, if people do start to participate in more sports-related types of activities, they may decide to do more formal exercise or workouts to enhance their performance in the activity that they have selected. For instance, if you decide to play tennis or racquetball, you may find that working out will improve your performance with that activity. So by combining a physical activity or sport you enjoy or have always had a desire to try, people may find that they can then enhance the performance with more formal workouts.

Member question: What is the best regimen to follow for getting stronger?

Weil: Resistance exercise, where muscles contract against any external resistance or force, will help the muscles get stronger. So you can lift dumbbells or rubber tubing or even your own body weight, like a pushup or other calisthenics, and if the muscles are forced to contract, they will respond by getting stronger.

The guidelines for resistance exercise are written by the American College of Sports Medicine and they are to start with at least two days of any type of resistance exercise doing 8 to 10 different exercises and doing 8 to 12 repetitions. A repetition is how many times you lift the weight or pull the rubber tubing or move your body. So that might be 8 to 10 biceps curls or 8 to 10 pushups.

In 12 weeks of consistent resistance exercise strength can increase by 20% to 23%. Resistance exercise is important because it builds muscle. Muscle is important because it is the engine in your body that burns calories and helps maintain your metabolic rate. I encourage all people to do any type of resistance exercise for those reasons, as well as for the fact that balance will improve and coordination will improve. Resistance exercise also improves self-esteem.

Moderator: So those who are interested in using exercise to aid in weight loss should not just look at calories burned by a certain amount of a particular exercise? Building muscle means weight loss is enhanced across the board?

Weil: When anyone loses weight, up to 25% of the weight lost could be muscle. In other words, if you lose 100 pounds, 25 pounds could be muscle. This can make more weight loss difficult, because of the role of muscle in burning calories. Although weight lifting and other resistance exercise do not necessarily burn lots of calories, it's very important for long-term weight maintenance, because muscle is so metabolically active in your body.

The bottom line is that you want as much muscle as possible. So resistance exercise during weight loss, and once you reach your goal weight, is important.

Member question: What is too much exercise?

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