By Helaine Krasner, RD, CDN

Most of us know that exercise is important. Beyond burning calories, which aids in weight control, other benefits of exercise include temporary appetite suppression, improved sleep quality, elevated mood, lower cholesterol, increased energy, better blood sugar control, and a stronger, healthier heart.  There are specific benefits derived from both aerobic exercise and resistance training, and it’s important to incorporate both into your routine.

Aerobic exercise, also known as cardiovascular exercise, aids in weight loss and maintenance by burning more calories per minute on average compared with resistance training. An important benefit of this form of exercise is improved heart health, achieved from a stronger heart muscle, more elastic arteries, and lower blood pressure. Aerobic exercise also helps raise your “good” HDL cholesterol and lowers your “bad” LDL cholesterol. Other benefits include a stronger immune system, increased stamina, stress-reduction, and improved cognitive function.

Resistance training using weights, machinery, or one’s own body, is important for preserving and building muscle mass as we age or lose weight. It also helps to strengthen bones. When we gain or lose weight, both fat and muscle are affected.  Resistance training helps minimize muscle loss and enables us to gain muscle after weight loss goals are reached. Lean muscle is important for promoting a faster metabolism (i.e. more calories burned at rest) and supports a strong, healthy body that is more resistant to sarcopenia, the degenerative decline in muscle mass often associated with aging.

Recommendations and Tips:

  1. Get medical clearance before beginning a new activity.
  2. For weight loss or maintenance, experts recommend 300 minutes per week (ex. 60 minutes/day, 5 days/wk) of moderate intensity aerobic exercise (ex. brisk walking or biking less than 10 mph) or 150 minutes of vigorous activity (ex. jogging, jumping rope, biking more than 10 mph).
  3. Include resistance training 2-3 times/wk. (ex. 1 set, 8-12 repetitions for each muscle group).
  4. Start small and build up over time. Forget the adage “no pain, no gain”.
  5. The best exercise is the one you enjoy and will do consistently.
  6. Consider Mather’s physical therapy exercise program for personalized attention to accommodate your unique needs.
  7. Monitor your activity and track your progress.
  8. Celebrate your success!

Helaine Krasner is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who takes great pride in helping our Bariatric and Medical Weight Management patients achieve their health and weight loss goals.