A Strong Case for Strength Training

Undoubtedly the best workouts for your heart are aerobic activities like walking, running, swimming, biking, dancing, or really vigorous housework or yard work. But aerobic exercise ism’t the only kind shown to help your heart. Strength training—the type of exercise that builds muscle mass—imay also be important to your heart (and it’s certainly important to the rest of your body).

In a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, strength training lowered total cholesterol 10 percent and LDL cholesterol 14 percent, and also reduced body fat in 24 women who worked out for 45 to 50 minutes three times a week. Strength training also guards against osteoporosis, helps protect your joints, and revs your metabolism, since muscle tissue burns calories much faster than fat tissue does, And of course being strong lets you put more muscle behind everyday tasks like carrying groceries and grandkids, so you’ll tire less easily and be less prone to injury. A side benefit: When you tighten up sagging muscles, you look better!

Muscle mass peaks around age 30 and then gradually declines until your fifties, when it tends to go downhill fast. And while walking is terrific for your heart and your legs, it doesn’t work the rest of the body very hard. So we’re going to ask you to do a bit of strength training in addition to your walking,

If you picture weight lifters heaving hundreds of pounds over their heads or gym fanatics pushing themselves to the limit when you imagine strength training, take heart: We don’t have anything like that in mind for you. Just some simple moves that you can do in the comfort and privacy of your own living room. Most of them don’t even require dumbbells. And don’t worry about “bulking up” too much. It takes hours of work a day to build big muscles; it won’t happen by accident.

So how much do we want you to do? How does 10 minutes a day sound? If that’s all the time you can spare, or you’re out of shape now, start with our 10-Minute Tune-Up beginning on page 149. Try to do it four times a week. Once you master these moves and your body is ready for a slightly more challenging workout, try the 30-Minute Total Body Toner starting on page 153. Aim to do it at least twice a week. Perform the exercises slowly and deliberately; there’s no sense rushing through them—you’ll only be courting injury. To protect your back, keep your stomach muscles tensed throughout these exercises,

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