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The Importance of Strength Training and Running

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The signs of spring are making themselves known. The days are getting longer and the sun is shining a little brighter.  As temperatures rise, so does the number of people lacing up their shoes and running.  Many people are signing up for their favorite spring and summer races and setting their running goals for the upcoming year.  Whether you are a novice or a professional runner, the question remains the same: What is the best way to train for a race?  One key factor to successful running, but too often overlooked, is the importance of strength training.

Studies are showing more and more that running alone is not enough.  Strength training provides a great number of benefits that running alone cannot.  In an era when time is a precious commodity, many runners choose to place their efforts toward running and skip strengthening.  This is also because of the misconception of getting more “bang for your buck” in that cardiovascular exercises burn more calories.  However, coupling workouts with strength training increases weight loss as well the ability to burn more calories throughout the day.  Fat does not burn calories.  Muscle, on the other hand, uses between 4.5 and 7 calories per pound of muscle every day (Runners World, 2009).  The lower the body fat percentage one has, the more calories one will burn each day while at rest. 

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Resistance Training...Why Is It For You?

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As we continue through the new year, people are focusing more on exercise. Many new years resolutions are made involving “getting fit” or “losing weight.” Some people join a gym, while others start exercising at home. Whatever your choice of exercise or setting, it is essential to include resistance training in your exercise routine.

Resistance training is an exercise that causes your muscle to move against resistance. While it can mean lifting weights, it also includes using your own body weight or any other object that adds resistance (bands, balls, blocks, etc.).

In physical therapy, we use resistance training for many patients. Whether someone is recovering from an ACL repair, shoulder pain, or low back pain, resistance training can play an integral part in his or her recovery. 

So….what are some benefits of resistance training?

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Why Water?

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When you think of water exercise, what comes to mind?  Maybe you think of water aerobics classes or high school swimmers.  What you may not know is how water can help someone of any age and any condition.  Because of the buoyancy, when you are standing in chest level in water, you lose approximately 75 percent of your weight.  This decompression on your joints makes exercise more comfortable for persons with back pain, arthritis, joint pain, surgery, chronic pain, and for pregnant women.  Water exercise is a great way to increase strength and range of motion and improve balance. 

It’s almost impossible to pick up a newspaper or magazine without seeing an article on the benefits of exercise. The healthcare industry as a whole is looking for ways to increase the health of our nation while decreasing the high cost of health care.

 Recent studies have looked at how exercise programs can prevent or delay many common health care problems that increase with aging, and the overall agreement is that some type of exercise program is essential for maintaining a high quality of life. Studies have also shown that inactivity causes a loss of independence and health due to a lack of endurance, strength, balance and flexibility.

Exercising on a regular basis maintains the ability to walk, and improves and maintains balance and posture which reduces the risk of falls. It also improves bone density, helping to prevent osteoporosis, and the repetitive motion of exercise promotes joint health by increasing joint lubrication.   Recently, exercise has been shown to maintain and even improve brain function and may help to prevent or delay the onset of dementia. The benefit of over-all health reduces the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, colorectal cancer and type 2 diabetes.

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