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Why is weight lifting important?

By Patty Hudek

Warm summer months give us a chance to participate in outdoor activities we may not otherwise partake in during cooler months, and let’s remember to include some resistance training in our exercise regimen.

Weight lifting, resistance training, muscle strengthening, or strength training are all common terms used to describe types of exercise that help build lean body mass. These types of activities provide additional benefits not found with aerobic activity. The benefits of weight lifting include increased bone density and muscular strength. Muscle-strengthening activities can also help maintain muscle mass which is especially important when you are on a weight-loss program.

Strength training activities challenge muscles to do more work and to overload the muscle. You don’t have to lift weights to do strength training. You can use resistance bands or even your own body weight by doing push-ups, pull-ups, or sit-ups. Muscle-strengthening activities for all the major muscle groups should be done at least two days a week.

Start slowly by doing one to two sets of an exercise per body part. Select a weight that you can do 8 to 12 repetitions. As you progress, increase the number of sets as well as the weight you use. The goal is to continually challenge the muscle. Increases in the amount of weight or the days a week of exercising will result in stronger muscles. Adding strength training to your exercise routine will have benefits to your overall health and fitness. Just remember to check with your doctor before beginning an exercise regimen.

Patty Hudek is an extension agent at the Lafayette County’s Extension Service on Veterans Drive. You can reach her at p.hudek@msstate.edu.