How much muscle-strengthening activity do I need?
Besides aerobic activity, you should also engage in activities that strengthen your muscles on 2 or more days a week. Muscle-strengthening activity (also known as strength training) should work all the major muscle groups of your body, that is, the legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders and arms.
Muscle-strengthening activity helps to:
- Develop stronger muscles and bones. It increases bone density and reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
- Control your weight. As you gain muscle, your body’s metabolism rate increases, thus enabling it to burn calories more efficiently.
- Reduce the risk of injury. Stronger muscles are able to support your joints better, and preventing them from injury. In addition, strength training increases neural functioning, improving reaction time, thus preventing injurious falls.
Muscle-strengthening activity can be done either at home or in a gym. Examples include:
- Exercises that use your body weight as resistance, such as push-ups, sit-ups, abdominal crunches, pull-ups and leg squats.
- Working with resistance bands. Resistance bands (or resistance tubing) is inexpensive, lightweight and can be bought at stores selling sports equipment.
- Lifting weights. You can use either free weights such as dumbbells, or work out on the weight machines in a gym or fitness centre.
Muscle-strengthening activities should be performed to the point at which it is difficult to do another repetition. A repetition is one complete movement of an activity, like lifting weights or doing sit-ups. You can:
- Perform the muscle-strengthening activities on the same or different days that you do aerobic activity.
- Start once a week with lighter weights, completing at least 8-12 repetitions. Over time, start increasing weight while performing the same number of repetitions.
Muscle-strengthening activities should include 8-10 different exercises that work the various large muscle groups.
Let’s get active!
Now that you know the types of physical activity for health benefits, it’s time to get active. Use the recommendations as a guide to help you in your journey of health and fitness.
Everyone can enjoy physical activity. However, if you have not been active and have a medical condition such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes or asthma, do consult your doctor on the type and amount of physical activity suitable for you.