Pros and cons of weight training
According to Padmashri Dr Balbir Singh, Chairman-Cardiology (Pan Max), Max Hospital, Saket, “The benefits of weight training include increased muscle strength, increased bone density, increased lean muscle mass and, loss of fat, increased insulin sensitivity, increased endurance (to a somewhat lesser extent than with aerobic exercise), which help in carrying out daily activities with ease.”
By now we all know that benefits of weight training are plenty. However, too much weight training have its own downsides. Dr. G.R. Kane, Consultant, Director – Cardiology, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Navi Mumbai shares, “Too much weight being lifted can damage joints and muscles. Injuries to the spine, such as herniated discs, may also occur. Heavy lifting may sometimes even cause a heart artery to rupture, which can be deadly.” Heart patients should be cautious and allow their cardiologists to guide them.
Doctors normally only recommend moderate amounts of weight training. “Overdoing is generally harmful. Don’t stretch yourself too much and go slow,” adds Dr Balbir.
Things to keep in mind
Dr Balbir shares some guidelines from American Heart Association for people who want to lift weights:
- Lift weights in a rhythmic manner at moderate to slow controlled speed.
- Lift through a full range of motion.
- Do not hold your breath and strain. Instead, exhale during the contraction (exertion) phase of the lift and inhale during the relaxation phase.
- Alternate between upper-body and lower-body lifts.
- Healthy people starting weight training should start with 8 to 12 repetitions per set. Older or frailer individuals should use much lighter weights, and do 10-15 repetitions per set.
- Start with a single set, two days a week.
- Important exercises to include: chest press, shoulder press, triceps extension, biceps curl, pull-down, lower-back extension, abdominal crunch/curl-up, leg press, leg curl, and calf raise.
Dr. G.R. Kane, Consultant, Director – Cardiology, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Navi Mumbai shares, “Elderly should keep in mind that they should strength train at least twice a week, be kind to their joints, start with bodyweight exercises, add balance and flexibility exercises to avoid injury, plan for extra warmup and recovery time and set a goal that matters to you at your age.”
Breathlessness which comes with accustomed exertion (an activity which you could do without breathlessness before) is always abnormal, he further adds.
To sum it all up, be mindful while lifting weights and do not push yourself too much. Chronically ill patients are advised to consult their doctors before starting a new routine.