Walking is a terrific form of exercise, but as I note here, any walking program should be complemented by other forms of exercise, including strength training.
The CDC recommends that adults ages 18 to 64 do muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week. (That’s in addition to its advice to do at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every week.)
However, the CDC has found in a new study that only 23.7 percent of us ages 45 or older meet that recommendation. Further, that group is most likely to include women, widows, people 85 or older, people who are obese, Hispanics, and those who didn’t graduate from high school.
I am a 45-year-old woman, and I have to confess that in the past, most weeks I would barely meet that two-day minimum, unless I was taking a class at my gym. I think I tended to feel that strength-training didn’t provide as intense or get-my-blood-pumping a workout, and if I were going to work out, I wanted to feel like I did, sweat rivulets as proof.
But over the past few months I’ve managed to work strength training into my routine more often, and circuit training is the means. Due to a change in my work schedule, my workout time on weekdays became more constrained — 30 minutes, firm.
Some days I do aerobic activity, sure. But on others, I do an interval workout. After warming up for a few minutes, I do one minute of activity, take 20 seconds to change moves, then do another minute of activity, and so on, for 11 or 12 sets, ending with a couple minutes of cool-down.
During those one-minute intervals, I do various strength-training moves. I use dumbbells, machines at my gym and my body weight. Ideally I’ll do combo moves, such as squats standing to a shoulder press, to work both arms and legs. Every few intervals, I throw in a minute of cardio, such as jumping rope or running the stairs at the gym.
To my surprise, this does make me feel like I got a good workout. Knowing that I have just 30 minutes makes me focus and do my best to get the most out of it.
And I can feel assured that I’ll reap the benefits of strength training — among them, higher metabolism, (hopefully) more toned body parts and an improved ability to easily do activities of daily living.
So pick up a dumbbell and give it a try, or use your body weight to do exercises in any setting you like. Your body will thank you!