Worth the weight

by Denis Faye | February 14, 2011

Although I’m more from the “it doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you do it” school of exercise, this article in the Los Angeles Times brings up some interesting arguments for including some weight work in your fitness regime.

A growing body of research shows that working out with weights has health benefits beyond simply bulking up one’s muscles and strengthening bones. Studies are finding that more lean muscle mass may allow kidney dialysis patients to live longer, give older people better cognitive function, reduce depression, boost good cholesterol, lessen the swelling and discomfort of lymphedema after breast cancer and help lower the risk of diabetes.

“Muscle is our largest metabolically active organ, and that’s the backdrop that people usually forget,” said Kent Adams, director of the exercise physiology lab at Cal State Monterey Bay. Strengthening the muscles “has a ripple effect throughout the body on things like metabolic syndrome and obesity.”

The article goes on to cite a number of studies, even going as far as to point out that resistance training can potentially improve cognitive ability in older people by triggering the production of pro-brain proteins.

But as I said above, while I think it’s important to include some type of resistance training in our lives, I question if you all need to go out and buy a set of kettlebells. While I personally enjoy the occasional weightlifting session, I have several very fit friends who view visiting the free weight room at their local gym as the closest they’ll get to hell in this lifetime without the aid of an in-law or a red-hot farm implement. All the processes that cause the benefits mentioned, the breaking down of muscle, the mobilization of protein, aren’t exclusive to lifting a dumbbell. You’re going to get that from any activity that has an anaerobic element. In other word, from any activity that works the muscles a little. Pilates, kickboxing, moving furniture, even a particularly brutal yoga session is going to work those muscles to some degree.

So go lift something.


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