Tag Archives: resistance exercise

Women Reduce Risk of Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes With Strength Training

That's a dumbbell in her right hand. I work-out with those myself.

That’s a dumbbell in her right hand. I work-out with those myself.

I don’t have access to the full scientific report, but I’ve posted part of the abstract below.

The biggest problem with the study at hand is that physical activity apparently was surveyed only at the start of this 14-year study. Results would be much more robust if activity was surveyed every year or two. My overall activity level seems to change every two or three years. How about you?

Moving on.

“Compared to women who reported no strength training, women engaging in any strength training experienced a reduced rate of type 2 diabetes of 30% when controlling for time spent in other activities and other confounders. A risk reduction of 17% was observed for cardiovascular disease among women engaging in strength training. Participation in both strength training and aerobic activity was associated with additional risk reductions for both type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease compared to participation in aerobic activity only.

CONCLUSIONS: These data support the inclusion of muscle-strengthening exercises in physical activity regimens for reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, independent of aerobic exercise. Further research is needed to determine the optimum dose and intensity of muscle-strengthening exercises.”

PMID 27580152

Source: Strength Training and the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease. – PubMed – NCBI

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: Cardiovascular disease includes heart attack, cardiac death, stroke, coronary angioplasty, and coronary artery bypass grafting.

Your Fitness Program Is Different From Mine

Eighteen months ago I was sedentary.  I had developed some mysterious shoulder pain that I was able to cure with a rehab program.  Soon after that, the family went bowling for the first time in years.  After just three lines (games), my bowling arm got weak and sore.  That was a wake-up call for me. 

I needed a fitness program with a strength training component.

Assembling a fitness program for yourself is like figuring out your weight loss and management plan.  Lots of idiosyncrasies and variables to consider.  You have to determine what works for you, sometimes through trial and error.  Your plan may not work for your neighbor.

You could always go to a personal trainer who’ll devise a plan for you and supervise implementation.  That’s not a bad idea at all, and probably the best choice for someone not familiar with exercise yet serious about long-term health and weight management.

Future posts will address exercise-related issues peculiar to people with diabetes.  These are important.

I remember reading somewhere on the ‘net over the last year about “the big five” exercises for strength training (aka resistance training).    Turns out there are lots of Big Five lists.  Here’s one:

  • squats
  • deadlifts
  • bench press
  • overhead press
  • chin-ups
And another, similar list (a blog commenter said these were the five free-weight exercises at the top of Dr. Doug McGuff’s list):
  • squats
  • deadlifts
  • bench press
  • standing overhead press (same as military press?)
  • bent-over barbell row

If you’re not familiar with these, go to YouTube and browse.

In case you’re wondering, I’m not interested, at my age, in growing large muscles. My goal is to be injury resistant and as strong as I can be without spending too much time at it, regardless of muscle size.  Size doesn’t necessarily translate directly into strength.  My wife, on the other hand, appreciates large arms—think  Thor in The Avengers movie.

I’m tempted to put together a program composed of man-makers, Turkish get-ups, High Knee Walk to Spiderman With Hip Lift and Overhead Reach (HKWTSWHLOR?), and treadmill HIIT.  I’m saving that for another day, however.

I’ll share my new program tomorrow.

Steve Parker, M.D. 

PS: In case the appropriate link above is broken, the shoulder rehab exercises I did were from an online pamphlet from The Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma, probably in the Physical Therapy section.

Hillfit Strength Training and Me

Last January I wrote a favorable review of Chris Highcock’s Hillfit strength training program for hikers.  Ten days ago I finished a six-week trial of actually following the the program, and I still like it.  It’s an eye-opener.

See my prior review for details of the program.  Briefly, you do four exercises (requiring no special equipment) for fifteen minutes twice a week.  Who doesn’t have time for that?

I did modify the program a bit.  I included high-intensity intervals on a treadmill twice weekly, right after my Hillfit exercises.  Here’s the 15-minute treadmill workout: 3 minute warm-up at 5.3 mph, then one minute fast jogging at 7–8 mph, then one minute of easy jog at 5.3 mpg. Alternate fast and slow running like that for 6 cycles.  So my total workout time was 30 minutes twice weekly.

Why the treadmill HIIT (high intensity interval training)?  For endurance.  I’m still not convinced that strength training alone is adequate for the degree of muscular and cardiopulmonary endurance I want.  I’m not saying it isn’t adequate.  That’s a self-experiment for another day.  In 2013, I’m planning to hike Arizona’a Grand Canyon rim to rim with my son’s Boy Scout troop.  That’s six or eight miles down, sleep-over, then six or eight  miles back up the other side of the canyon.  That takes strength and endurance.

One part of the program I wasn’t good at: Chris recommends taking about 10 seconds to complete each exercise motion.  For example, if you’re doing a push-up, take 10 seconds to go down to the horizontal position, and 10 seconds to return up to starting position with arms fully extended.  I forgot to do it that slowly, taking five or six seconds each way instead.

I’ve preached about the benefits of baseline and periodic fitness measurements.  Here are mine, before and after six weeks of Hillfit and treadmill HIIT:

  • weight: no real change (168 lb or 76.2 kg rose to 170 lb or 77.3 kg)
  • body mass index: no change (23.3)
  • resting heart rate and blood pressure: not done
  • maximum consecutive push-ups: 30 before, 34 after
  • maximum consecutive pull-ups: 7 before, 8 after
  • maximum consecutive sit-ups: 30 before, 37 after
  • time for one-mile walk/run: 8 minutes and 45 seconds before, down to 8 minutes and 35 seconds after
  • vertical jump (highest point above ground I can jump and touch): 108.75 inches or 276 cm before, to 279.5 cm after
  • waist circumference: no real change (92 cm standing/87 cm supine before, 92.5 cm standing/87.5 cm supine after)
  • biceps circumference: no real change (33 cm left and 33.5 cm right before; 33 cm left and 33 cm right after)
  • calf circumference: 39.5 cm left and 39 cm right, before; 38.5 cm left and 37 cm right, after (not the same child measuring me both times)
  • toe touch (stand and lock knees, bend over at waist to touch toes: 7.5 inches (19 cm) above ground before, 8.5 inches (22 cm) after

If these performance numbers seem puny to you, please note that I’m 57-years-old.  I’m not sure exactly where I stand among others my age, but I suspect I’m in the top half.  I’m sure I could do much better if I put in the time and effort.  My goal right now is to achieve or maintain a reasonable level of fitness without the five hours a week of exercise recommended by so many public health authorities.

Take-Home Points

Overall, this program improved my level of fitness over six weeks, with a minimal time commitment.  I credit Hillfit for the gains in push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, and perhaps vertical jump.

My time on the one-mile run didn’t improve much, if at all.  This fits with my preconceived notion that strength training might not help me with leg muscle  and cardiopulmonary endurance.

The Hillfit exercise progressions involve adding weights to a backpack (aka rucksack or knapsack) before you start the exercise.  I’m already up to 80 lb (36 kg) extra weight on the modified row, and 85 lb (39 kg) on the hip extensions.  That’s getting unwieldy and straining the seams of my backpack.  I can’t see going much higher with those weights.

I expect I could easily maintain my current level of fitness by continuing Hillfit and HIIT treadmill work at my current levels of intensity.  In only one hour per week.  Not bad at all.

It’s possible I could get even stronger if I stuck to the program longer, or slowed down my movements to the recommended 10 seconds each way.

The key to muscle strength gain with Hillfit seems to be working the muscles steadily, to near-exhaustion over 90 seconds, gradually adding a higher work load as the days or weeks pass.

I’m setting Hillfit aside for now, only because I want to start a new self-experiment.

Hillfit is an excellent time-efficient strength training program for those with little resistance-training background, or for those at low to moderate levels of current fitness.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Note to self:

When doing a mile run on the treadmill, I tend to start out too fast, then burn out and have to slow down.  That may be impairing my performance.  Next time, start at 7 mph for a couple minutes then try to increase speed.  Running a mile at 7 mph takes nine minutes.  A mile at 7.5 mph takes 8 minutes.  A mile at 8 mph takes 7 minutes and 30 seconds.