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This New Year, Resolve To Lift!

January 2007
This New Year, Resolve To Lift!

Men should lift, women should lift, and seniors should lift, and now according to the American Council on Exercise even children age seven and above should lift—lift weights, that is! Pick up any recent Indian publication and there you will read about how people in our community are unhealthy and prone to heart disease. Much has been said and written about this topic but little information has been devoted to the most effective preventative measure of all, which is exercise!

Why do we take our health for granted? Why do we wait until we have to have a bypass surgery and then begin to take charge of our health? And when we do take charge, it is a weak program which only involves walking on the treadmill.

Asian Indians are some of the smartest, most successful and most educated people in the world, but yet when it comes to our health and fitness most of us are grossly negligent. We strive to compete with our fellow Americans in every single facet of our lives, whether it's buying fancy cars, living in expensive homes, or wearing designer clothes, but we are still under par when it comes to fitness and health. We do maintenance on our homes and cars but neglect to maintain our bodies.

Most of us are under the illusion that walking is the only exercise we need. Walking is a great beginning, but it is not enough. We must get smart about our health and start exercising out of our "comfort zones," but most of all we must start training with weights!

The benefits to lifting weights are numerous. Muscles: The body loses half a pound of muscle every year after the age of 20 if muscles are not trained with weights. Bones: Weight lifting, which is the best preventative measure for women when it comes to osteoporosis, also improves bone density over time. Yet Asian Indian women who are at high risk of developing osteoporosis tend to shy away from weight training. Weight: Not only does weight training increase the body's metabolic rate, it leads to a reduction in overall body fat quicker than just doing cardiovascular exercise, and as a bonus, it trims inches around the waist. Fall prevention: Seniors can improve their balance and coordination with strength training. Quality of life: As we age, muscles atrophy and lose strength. Weak muscles cause activities of daily living to become more difficult. Strong muscles, on the other hand, can improve the overall quality of life.

How does one begin a weight training program? First of all, consult your doctor to get the green light. For beginners, one exercise per muscle group performed three times a week provides many health benefits. There are plenty of resources available on how to begin a weight training program. Books are available at bookstores which provide information on exercises that can be performed with minimal equipment, such as dumbbells and/or strength training bands. You can also consult a personal trainer at your local gym to help you get started with your weight training routine. With internet technology, online training is now available. Exercises programs are emailed and an online personal trainer keeps you motivated and monitors your progress.

How long does it take to see some positive effects? Within a month of beginning a weight training program you will definitely notice an increase in strength and an overall improvement in your quality of life.

When it comes to your health and fitness, don't wait for that bypass surgery and then take charge. Don't be lazy. Be aggressive and take control now. Don't use lack of time as an excuse—instead, employ time management. After all, your body is your real home. Maintain it in the best possible shape!

--Aarti Patel

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