He is currently pursuing his residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Louisiana State University.
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How to Begin a Walking Program
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Weight, Lean Body Mass and Exercise
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How to Exercise with Disabled or Weak Legs
How to Conserve Muscle Mass During Weight Loss
How to Build Muscle Mass
How to Build Muscular Endurance
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Exercise Improves Eating Habits
Cochrane Review: Exercise for Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
Resistance training is a type of exercise that is focused on building skeletal muscle to increase strength, improve health, and overall appearance. Late night television is peppered with commercials about bigger muscles, defined abs, and tighter thighs. Most of these actors are professional weight lifters, and their nine to five day job is spent in the gym. Not all of us are that lucky to get paid to look good. So why should we invest our time and energy into resistance training? The truth is that building muscle strengthens more than our biceps.
Your heart is the most important muscle in your body. We can afford to lose function in an arm or leg muscle, but with the heart we will not be so lucky. Generally as Americans, we don’t move enough. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to an increase in blood pressure, which causes your heart to overwork. An overworked heart can lead to heart failure, and ultimately death. Therefore, our heart needs regular exercise through cardiovascular and resistance training. A review article by Dr. Richard Winett at Virginia Tech states that regular resistance training, in particular, has been shown to decrease heart rate and systolic blood pressure (Prev Med 33:503-513). Thus, according to the American Heart Association (Circulation 2009, 120:S511-S512), aerobic exercise, combined with resistance training, are important in maintaining heart health.
Excess fat in the abdominal area has been linked to many chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, sleep apnea, cancer, and many others. Cardiovascular exercise and healthy food choices are not the only ways to fight obesity. A recent study was designed to determine the relationship between muscular strength and body fat (Obesity 2009, Epub). Muscular strength was assessed in 3,258 men and compared to body fat measurements and waist circumference. They noted that those with higher muscular strength had lower levels of body fat and were less likely to become overweight. Therefore, beginning a resistance training program may decrease your risk of obesity and its related chronic diseases.
Unfortunately, the incidence of new cases of diabetes in the United States continues to rise. Exercise, nutritional improvement and medications are the first lines of treatment of type 2 diabetes. However, according to the Cochrane Review, resistance training has also been proven to improve blood sugar control in diabetes. The hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C), is a blood test that your doctor uses to monitor your blood sugar control over a three month period. Regular resistance training was shown to decrease the HbA1C by .6 percent. To put this into perspective, a 2007 article in Diabetic Medicine (9:955-961) showed that metformin, a common first line diabetes medication, reduces HbA1C levels by 1.4 percent. Therefore, combining regular strength training with prescribed medications can result in significant improvements in blood sugar control.