I'm not trying to lose weight or become the next Ms. Fitness America. Instead, I’m trying to get hooked on healthy living, and at the same time build up my bone density.
In doing so, I have discovered that resistance training is something every woman should do, in my humble opinion. Strengthening your bones and maintaining muscle mass is critical for graceful aging, and according to the July issue the Mayo Clinic Health Letter, resistance training once or twice a week keeps your mind sharp.
The weight room at the gym is not as intimidating as most women would imagine. All you really need is an iPod and some basic knowledge of a few core exercises, which the trainers at any gym would be more than happy to demonstrate to you. Then, it's just a matter of maintaining proper range of motion as you perform each exercise. I was motivated to see many women of different ages around me - trying just as hard as I am to stay healthy, and at the same time, offering each other encouragement. I was especially impressed with the women in the spinning class next to me; in a couple weeks I can see myself in there sweating it out with them. But for now I will listen to the advice of my trainer.
With my first visit to the weight room in about six years, personally I call this phase “hello muscles”, I started out with 10 and 20 lb weights, and focused on the precise motion required to tone each muscle. This awakens muscles I haven't paid attention to in quite some time. I was surprised how weak my quadriceps are. You'd think that brisk walking a couple of miles three times a week would give me stronger legs. Apparently not as much! Change is not always comfortable - nor is it easy. I’ve discovered it requires both time and energy.
The hardest part of weight training for me, personally, is the soreness I get in my muscles afterwards. Yes...it is exhausting too, and combining it with cardiovascular training, it’s even more exhausting. This is when I remember my doctor’s advice, and like the little steam engine that could, I say to myself, "I think I can, I think I can", and I keep on moving.
In cardiovascular training, I especially love doing “Intervals”. This involves burst of high intensity training, with periods of low activity. The elliptical machine is my cardio equipment of choice, on which I do intervals. I glide back and forth on this machine for thirty minutes, sweating profusely. Next I move on to weight training. Depending on the muscle group I am focusing on for that day, I use free weights or machines. Finally, I finished off with my balance and toning on the exercise ball. I follow this routine three times a week. My trainer told me that the increased speed involved with intervals training helps to build my body on a cellular level. This process produces new blood vessels, which helps to create new muscle cells. He said that I should be very careful not to exercise 'too hard', because this can put stress on my muscles. Unnecessary stress on the muscles can cause small, microscopic damage to muscle fibers. So, even though my muscles are sore after a couple of days of exercising; they are getting stronger and firmer.
Resistance training is hard work. My motivation comes from the increase in my energy level, the positive result of my bone scan, and most importantly, keeping a healthy body and mind. My trainer recommends a 24 hours recovery time. This allows my muscles to adapt to my fitness regimen. During these 24 hours, I remind myself to cherish the soreness, because I’m working my way to a better body and mind and hopefully a long and healthy life.
Any suggestions or ideas would be most welcome!!