4 Reasons Why You Should Start Strength Training (and 4 Essential Exercises)

July 31, 2020

If you think working out with weights is only for big, muscle-bound guys who drink protein shakes and spend all day counting macros, think again! Strength training is good for everyone – women and seniors, too. Besides helping you look more toned and trim, it can help you feel better, no matter how old you are. Here are a few more reasons to pump some iron (or canned foods, if that’s what you have at home), and how to get started.


It's the Perfect Home Workout

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Strength training isn’t just working out with weights or gym machines. It can mean using resistance, like the kind provided by a resistance band or even a scarf or towel. Many strength training exercises use your own body weight (for example, doing a pushup against a wall) and even gravity (such as holding plank or doing squats). Many exercises can be easily modified so you can use common household items, such as cans of food, water bottles, paper plates, or even jugs of laundry detergent or kitty litter.


You’ll Burn More Fat

Section 2People who add weights to their exercise routine are often surprised by the results. Their weight may not change, but they find their clothes fit looser and their waistline shrinks: it’s almost like you’re replacing fat with muscle. Lean muscle mass boosts your metabolism, especially when added to a cardio or walking program

Even if you’re just doing it for your physical appearance, losing weight can:
⦁    Lower your risks for heart diseasecolon cancer, and other diseases
⦁    Reduce your anxiety 
⦁    Help you sleep better 
⦁    Reduced your appetite


Strength Training Can Help You Age Gracefully

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As people age, they lose bone density and may suffer other degenerative changes to muscles and joints. This can make them vulnerable not only to arthritis, but to aches, sprains, and falls – which can be very dangerous for senior citizens. 

Working out with weights can help you build muscle mass to protect your joints and keep you strong and flexible. The right exercises may improve your posture and your coordination, which makes you less likely to fall, trip, or have accidents. And because strength training fights inflammation, it may help reduce pain for those who suffer arthritis


Improve Conditioning and Athletic Performance
No matter what sport you play, a weight-training program can make you better, stronger, and faster. Adding lean muscle mass to your frame improves your overall level of fitness. You need powerful muscles to move faster, and strength training can also help improve your coordination, so you have fewer accidents, and improve muscle recovery after workouts and training.


How to Get Started
If you’re a senior, you haven’t exercised in a while, or you have a serious health condition, check with your doctor first to make sure you are healthy enough for exercise. Then get started with these basics. At first, try these exercises twice a week, then adjust accordingly. 

 

Squats

Squats

Parts of the body worked: hips (butt), back, and core; improves foot and ankle mobility.

Equipment: None, or resistance band or chair (optional)

⦁    Stand straight with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
⦁    Hold your abs tight and lower yourself down like you are sitting in a chair. (If you need to, hold your arms out for balance or put one hand on the back of a chair for support.)
⦁    Keep your knees parallel, over your ankles, and don’t let them knock inwards. You should be able to see your toes. If not, push your behind further back when you squat. For an extra challenge, loop a resistance band above your knees.
⦁    Slowly return to standing position, using your muscles, not momentum. 

Goal: 3 sets of 10

 

Planks

Plank

Parts of the body worked: shoulders, back, core, chest, hips, and more. 

Equipment: None

⦁    Lay on the floor and lift yourself to the top of a push-up position. (If you’re a beginner, try it on your elbows and knees). 
⦁    Keep your stomach strong and tight, and don’t arch your back.
⦁    Hold for only as long as you are able to maintain a straight line without your stomach or hips “sagging.” Keeping good form is more important than how long you can hold it.

Goal: 30 seconds and build from there once you start gaining strength and endurance.
 

Shoulder Press (standing or seated)

Shoulder PressParts of the body worked: shoulders, back, core, chest, hips, and more. 

Equipment: None

⦁    Lay on the floor and lift yourself to the top of a push-up position. (If you’re a beginner, try it on your elbows and knees). 
⦁    Keep your stomach strong and tight, and don’t arch your back.
⦁    Hold for only as long as you are able to maintain a straight line without your stomach or hips “sagging.” Keeping good form is more important than how long you can hold it.

Goal: 30 seconds and build from there once you start gaining strength and endurance.

 

Resistance Band Pull-Apart

Resistance

Parts of the body worked: Shoulders, back, and arms

Equipment needed: Resistance band

⦁    Start with your arms in front of you.
⦁    Now, move them away from each other, stretching the resistance band and squeezing your shoulder blades together.
⦁    Maintaining control, keep resistance on the band as you return to the starting position.

Goal: 3 sets of 10.

 

Stop if You Feel Pain or Extreme Shortness of Breath  

If you start feeling real pain, stop immediately. Remember that it’s normal to feel a little shaky, to feel a little burning sensation, or soreness when you’re trying strength building exercises. Just don’t push yourself too hard, there’s a difference between discomfort and pain. 

 

Stay Strong and Grow Healthy

Section 4Exercise is like any other kind of routine: you’ve got to keep at it! It can take a while before you notice the results of an exercise program, but it’s worth the effort. 

 

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How to Safely Stay Active and Exercise to Best Protect Yourself or Family

July 20, 2020

After so many months of sheltering at home, you and your family are probably excited to get outside. And even if you’ve seen the news that being outdoors is safer, maybe you’ve also seen pictures of crowded beaches, parks, and hiking trails, and wonder if it’s really safe to exercise outdoors.

At AltaMed, we know that feeling like you’re trapped inside can place a strain on your mental health. While exercise is one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health, we urge you to use extreme caution when you go outdoors. Read on to learn how to minimize the risks while participating in outdoor activities.

 

Plan Ahead for a Trip to the Park

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First, check to make sure your park is open. Then pick a time when it’s likely to be less crowded – this could be early mornings and weekdays. Since we’re getting into the warmer times of the year, avoid afternoons when the sun is at its peak (even in the mornings or when it doesn’t seem sunny, UV rays can still damage your eyes and skin). Make sure you can safely maintain a distance of at least six feet from anyone else who is not in your household, and of course, don’t forget to wear a cloth face covering.

Also, remember to practice coronavirus etiquette! Even as you social distance, remember that other people need their space, too. If possible, avoid taking a large group of people from your household on an outing. And always walk single-file to make sure others can safely pass.

 

Take a Pass on Playgrounds

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Even if you find an empty playground, keep in mind that you don’t know who was there before you, and it may not have been sanitized. Plus, as a parent, you know how difficult it is to keep your child from touching their face. For now, there’s no guarantee that public playgrounds are safe.

 

Do Your Best to Stay Out of Public Bathrooms

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At this point, scientists still aren’t sure if the coronavirus can spread through waste products – and there are plenty of other surfaces for germs to hide on. Your best bet is to avoid public restrooms altogether. However, if that doesn’t sound like a reality, prepare a kit that includes:

•Disposable toilet seat covers

•Toilet paper

•Hand sanitizer

•Disposable plastic gloves

Avoid touching anything in the restroom – this includes doorknobs, sink faucets, or toilet lids. Don’t use air dryers, which can potentially spread small particles throughout the air.

 

Exercise Caution at Public Pools

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Here’s some good news for summer: Covid-19 has not been shown to spread through water, and public pools use chemicals that kill or inactivate the virus. That doesn’t mean you can let your guard down.

If you want to swim at a public pool, such as those run by Los Angeles County or even a pool at an apartment or condominium complex, make sure it is cleaned frequently. Avoid the area entirely if there’s a gathering of ten or more people. To keep your family safe:

•Don’t share equipment, such as swimming masks, snorkels, pool noodles, flippers, kickboards, or even towels.

•Don’t wear a face covering while you’re swimming.

•Avoid public restrooms and communal changing areas.

 

It’s Too Early for Team Sports

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It’s fine to play catch with your family but participating in a game with people outside your household increases everyone’s risk for transmitting the virus.

If you’ve got a young athlete who is afraid all the time off will affect their performance, they can still practice some of their individual skills, such as running, throwing, or dribbling in a physically-distanced and safe environment. Get involved and get creative!

 

The Lowest-Risk Ways to Stay Active:

Try Exercising at Home

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If you have a yard, that’s the perfect place for jumping jacks, skipping rope, jogging in place, or even a brisk game of “tag.” You can also walk laps around your neighborhood (while practicing physical distancing, of course).

 

Think of YouTube and Apps as Your New Personal Gym

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There are thousands of different exercise videos and apps for your phone available, representing every activity you can think of – from yoga and Pilates to weight-lifting, high- intensity interval training, dance, and more.

 

Start a Do-It-Yourself Weight Training Routine

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You should still do at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise most days of the week, but weight-training can help you get even more out of your fitness routine. You’ll increase your lean muscle mass, which can fire up your metabolism and protect your joints and bones. If you lack equipment, you can also use simple household items for your weights:

•A gallon of water or jug of kitty-litter or laundry detergent makes a great kettlebell.

•Instead of dumbbells, lift canned food or bottles of water.

•A dishtowel or a scarf can be used in place of a resistance band.

•A paper plate can be used in place of a glider on carpet and a towel can be used on hard flooring.

 

Above All, Exercise Caution!

Not sure if you’re healthy enough for vigorous exercise? Call us first. Our facilities are open, and you may be able to see a doctor with a telehealth visit. We want you to get active and have fun, but your family’s health and safety is our top priority.

 

The Beginners’ FAQs on Cardio Exercise

January 03, 2020

Cardio. It’s a word that gets used a lot. But what does it really mean? What’s the best kind? And how much is the right amount?

If you don’t know much about exercise or are totally new to it, we want to help you get started by answering some common questions about what cardio does, why you should do it, and how to get the most from it.

 

What Does Cardio Really Mean?

Chest x-ray image

Cardio is short for cardiovascular – relating to the heart and blood vessels. We call it cardiovascular exercise because it elevates your heart rate and gets your blood flowing for a long period of time. When we talk about cardio, we’re talking about activities like running, walking, jogging, swimming, or dancing. 

 

What’s Good About It?

Women cardio-dancing

Cardiovascular exercise is one of the best things you can do to stay healthy! Regular cardiovascular exercise can:

You can also make cardiovascular exercise a social activity that you can do with friends and family. Once you get used to moving more, you might think about walking to work to beat the stress of traffic.

 

How Much Do I Need?

Man swimming

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that most adults should aim for 150 - 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise like brisk walking, light jogging, tennis swimming, or dancing a week. Or, if you can dial up the intensity on your exercise (running, aerobics, Zumba, lap swimming, rowing), you can cut that number to 75 - 150 minutes a week.

Whoa! Isn’t That a Lot?

If you’ve never exercised before, it may sound like a challenge. But if you break it down into daily chunks, you can do it! If you’re a beginner, aim for 20 minutes a day. You don’t have to do it all at once – you can start  by doing five or 10 minutes of cardio several times a day. The CDC also recommends spreading it out over at least three days of the week to get maximum benefits.

 

Do I Need to Go to the Gym?

Training clothes and equipement

The gym does have all kinds of fancy exercise machines, but you don’t need a gym membership to get fit. Consider this list of activities:

Moderate-Intensity

  • Dancing
  • Easy swimming
  • Riding a bike
  • Walking briskly (2.5 miles per hour or faster)
  • Light hike
  • Yardwork

Vigorous Activities

  • Exercise classes such as step aerobics or kickboxing
  • Jogging or running
  • Jumping rope
  • Riding a bike faster than 10 miles per hour
  • Swimming laps
  • Long-distance hiking
  • Vigorous dancing

 

How Hard Should I Work?

Women cardio-dancing

You should work hard enough that your heart rate and breathing increases, but not so hard that you’re completely out of breath. You should have enough breath that you can have a conversation while exercising.

 

What If I’ve Never Worked Out?

Cardio equipment

If you’ve never been active before, some of these exercises may seem challenging. If you take on too much too fast, you may get discouraged and quit. Take it slow and steady. If you’re aiming for 20 minutes a day, it’s OK to do 10 minutes in the morning and then 10 minutes in the evening until you’ve built up your endurance. Then pick up the pace!

If you have a certain goal in mind – for example, a breast cancer awareness walk – give yourself time and work up to it gradually.

 

Once I Start Working Out, Should I Change My Diet?

Healthy lunchbox

You don’t have to – but it’s always a good idea to include more fresh produce and lean meats into your diet. Unless you are engaged in very strenuous exercise for hours at a time, skip the protein shakes, nutrition bars, and sports drinks. You should also drink more water, especially before and during your exercise. 

If you’ve never exercised before, have a serious health condition such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, or high blood pressure, or you’ve recently had cancer treatment, check with your doctor before starting a cardio regimen.  Call us at (888) 499-9303 to make an appointment.