some benefits of “lifting”

There are two books out in Barnes and Noble and other bookstores on the subject of exercise or lifting.  One of them is The Women’sHealth Big Book of Exercises.  Pages 4 to 8 list some of the benefits of exercise as found by studies in the last 20 years.

Here are some of the important items to note.  1) If you do not exercise and if you retain your initial weight over a period of 10 years or so, you will lose muscle and gain fat.  2) If you are losing weight for some reason and you are not exercising, about 1/4 of the weight you lose is muscle.  If you are exercising by lifting or body weight exercises, then, almost none of the weight you lose is of muscle.  3) Lifting weights regularly has a meaningful benefit in 60% of depressed persons, about the same as antidepressant drugs. 4) People who work out decrease one of their blood pressure numbers by 8 points on average, which results in a 40% decrease in the likelihood of stroke. 5) Strength training reduces one’s risk of diabetes.

A person in their 60s has about an 8% chance of stroke over 10 years, if I understand this chart correctly!

The book misses out on the benefits of walking, which it does not discuss.  Mercola claims that one or more studies show that walking two or more miles a day reduced your risk of a severe episode of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease by about half.

Walking a mile or more will reduce blood pressure by 11 points or so in menopausal women and walking 30 minutes a day reduces the risk of stroke by 20 to 40%.

Among men older than 70, walking 1/4 of a mile or more cut the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia by about half.  For middle-aged women, walking is associated with lowered body fat and a lower waist to hips ratio.

The question is which benefits, if any, are better obtained by walking or other exercise.  I am not sure if we know.

If you walk, there will be some additional benefits if you lift.  The question is whether or not, if you lift, are there benefits to walking?  Or, if you do neither, is it easier to start by including walking in your day?

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