The Fitness Fixer
The Fitness Fixer

Getting Stronger is for Everyone

I received several e-mails from people who tried the Quick and Fun Arm and Body Strengthener in the previous post. Readers were happy with their new-found understanding that being able to hold up their own body weight is important, empowering, healthy, and fun. They wanted to know more about the benefits.

Strength training isn't just for big guys in a gym. You need strength to lift and carry things around the house and workplace, to lift packages, children, groceries, and yourself easily rather than struggle. By increasing strength, you can do daily activities more easily, and reduce your chance of injury while doing it. Strengthening is important to reduce, even reverse, many characteristics often mistaken for aging, Becoming weak, unsteady, and slow is not aging. Are you as active as previously? It is a simple example of "use or lose."

At the ACSM New York conference on aging earlier this month, experts explained how it used to be thought that rates of protein synthesis, meaning how much protein your body uses to rebuild itself, decline with aging. However, it is not aging, but disuse. When experimental groups of people in their 70s began being active again, their rates of protein synthesis became comparable to the groups of 30-year-olds.

In my lecture at the aging conference, I told how the common perception of not being able to get up from the floor is not aging; it is the need to regain the strength and balance to do it. Part of my lecture explained how elderly and debilitated people who could not previously lift themselves out of their chairs become more mobile from daily movement that strengthens, allowing them to get up and walk again. Everyone needs the strength to lift their own body weight up from the floor, from bed, and out of chairs. With strengthening, may people who previously needed walkers and canes, sometimes even wheelchairs, could walk unaided again, and stop needing many medicines.

Using muscles is a key part of osteoporosis prevention. The pull of muscle against bone thickens the bone. The stronger a muscle, the more it can pull on the bones it attaches to when you use it. Without exercise, you lose bone no matter how much calcium you eat. Even a young person in a cast loses bone from simple disuse.

Even people who don't do activities commonly regarded as needing strength, do daily activities like carrying grocery bags, a suitcase for travel, or a squirmy child. When your arms are weak, you are more likely to lean back to carry things on front of you, shifting the weight to your lower back. You should be able to carry everything you want without leaning back or to the side, no matter whether it is a child on one hip or grocery bags carried in front in both arms, or both. You should be able to carry a shoulder bag or knapsack on your back without leaning your body forward.

Strength is important for everyone. You don't need a gym or trainer to get stronger. You don't need to change clothes. You don't need to buy equipment. Several posts of this blog have shown how to move with healthy positioning. The next post will list several ways to use that healthy positioning to strengthen your body more each day - Getting Stronger Without a Gym.

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About the Author


Dr. Bookspan is an award-winning scientist whose goal is to make exercise easier and healthier.