How easy it would be if every morning you could have a Strength Pill with a glass of water to deliver a strong and fit body, with muscle definition that not only looks better in your clothes but feels better when you lift the groceries, go up and down the stairs, and bend-over to work in the garden. Or a Strength Pill that allows you to have stronger bones to prevent cracks and breaks from a fall, or a stronger immune system to prevent cancer, flu and seasonal colds. How about a Strength Pill that when taken regularly lowers blood pressure and cardiovascular disease?
Although I don’t have a pill to offer, I do know of simple ways to get so many health benefits, that if it were in a pill it would be the most popular medicine in America. Well, how about starting with 3 minutes a day at home with squats, pushups and planks? How about 3 times a week lifting weights at a gym? Or how about 20 minutes using new technology? After all, exercise is medicine. Strength Training in particular is highly effective for decreasing risk of diabetes, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, obesity. In addition, Strength Training increases energy, confidence, happiness, reducing stress, anxiety and depression.
How important is it to keep your muscle strength? Super important, because after the age of 30, you lose 3% to 5% per decade of your muscle mass due to age. That means you are getting weaker and less mobile. However there is good news about regaining your strength. It can be done quickly, with as little as 4 to 6 weeks. Even some pills take that long to make an effect, right? However with Strength Training, use it or lose it is so true.
Are you now wondering about the “why” is exercise medicine for chronic diseases? The reason is because physical activity (all forms of exercise) fights the intra-abdominal fat that can fuel one’s risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and more. Exercise, especially Strength Training, effectively reduces weight (along with a healthy diet, of course), overall body fat and intra-abdominal fat, a hidden risk factor for many chronic illnesses.
I know you are enthused right now reading about all these health benefits and still wishing it was as easy as taking a pill with a glass of water each morning. So, let’s try to make this easy.
For those of you with no time to exercise, start with the 3 minutes a day approach. First thing in the morning, have a glass of water, and start with 1 minute of squats. You can start by sitting in a chair and rising to your feet. Alternatively, stand in front of a chair and squat just until your glutes reach the chair. Squat with your heels shoulder-width apart. Feet turned out slightly towards 30%. Knees pushed to the sides, tracking over you middle toe. Bend your hips and knees at the same time as going to sit in a chair (or sit in a chair). Squat with a natural arch like when you stand. 1 minute up and down.
Why squats? The basic squat is an extremely effective lower body move that strengthens all leg muscles, including the glutes.
1 minute down, 2 minutes to go. Next we have the Push-Up. You can get down on the floor and start on your knees (and progress to your toes as you build your upper body strength). Keep your body stiff and straight as a plank. Elbows at a 45-degree angle from your sides. Breathe in on the way down. Lower your body all the way down, allowing your sternum to gently touch the floor. Breathe out on the way up. For those who don’t have the mobility to be on the floor, consider doing the wall push-up. This same movement can be done inclined against a wall. This 1 minute of work will increase strength in your chest, arms, shoulders and core.
For our last minute of the 3 minutes a day daily dosage, we will focus on the core. A fantastic exercise is the Plank. This move is done on the floor with your elbows under your shoulders, your head as an extension of your spine, your shoulder blades dropped back and down, and you keep your body stiff and straight. You can be on your knees and progress overtime to your toes. What is key is to image you have a belt around your waist and you tighten the notch one space tighter than usual. That is allowing you to contract your deepest muscle fibers known as the transverse abdominals. Don’t forget to breathe and hold for 1 minute. Why should you plank? You will strengthen your core, can help reduce back pain, help make a flatter belly and even improve your posture and balance.
A word of caution – if you suffer from back issues or any other physical limitations, you will find the technical support and education from a qualified and certified Personal Trainer.
If you are up for more than 3 minutes – consider adding on 17 more minutes. This is the “Extra Strength” pill, that you are only required to take 2x a week. It is an effective yet safe Strength Training program offered with the new technology of Whole-Body Electronic Muscle Stimulation. It is located at Personal20, the Electro Fitness Studio in Herndon, VA. Here you will find a certified and qualified trainer specialized in this technology who will customize your workout.
So, until the day that all the health benefits of Strength Training can be incorporated into a pill, let’s keep it simple with the 3 minute daily workout, or the 20 min Electro Fitness workout twice a week, or consider upping your game to the 1 hour Personal Training at a gym by your house or work. And never forget, exercise is medicine!