Virtual Strength Training

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This is an alarming statistic:  nearly 80% of us are NOT reaching the physical activity guidelines recommended for Americans. 

The most recent edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (PAGA) shows that there is evidence that physical activity can foster normal growth and development in children. It can also make people feel better, function better, sleep better, reduce anxiety and reduce the risk of a large number of chronic diseases. But we all know that actually doing physical activities and the right kinds can be difficult.

FCS agent, Rachel Bland performing LIFT moves outside

The PAGA stresses that some physical activity is better than none and encourage everyone to move more. The goals for adults are to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. That’s about 22 minutes a day or ½ hour for five days a week. Obviously, there are more health benefits the more you do. When you look at the statistics, about half of Americans do accomplish this part of the goal.

Where we’re less committed is in the area of muscle-strengthening activities. Muscle-strengthening activities make muscles do more work than they are accustomed to during activities of daily life. Examples of muscle-strengthening activities include lifting weights, working with resistance bands, doing calisthenics that use body weight for resistance (such as push-ups, pullups, and planks), climbing stairs  and carrying heavy loads (such as groceries and heavy gardening). At least 2 days a week, adults should do muscle strengthening activities that involve all the major muscle groups. 

For children and young adults, exercise plays a major role in building strong bones and muscles. As we age, exercise helps slow the natural loss of bone density and maintain muscle mass. For older adults, balance and muscle strengthening exercise programs have been shown to decrease the risk of falls.

N.C. Cooperative Extension here in SE North Carolina has a program that can help with this strength training. It’s called the Lifelong Improvements through Fitness Together (LIFT) program. And you can do it virtually.

LIFT logo, Lifelong improvements through fitness together

Virtual fitness became very popular during the pandemic. This is one of the things that probably isn’t going to go away. People like it. Virtual fitness classes can be available in any weather and the best part is you don’t have to leave your house to do it. You don’t have to live close to a gym or community center to get this needed strength training.

LIFT will be done on Zoom and is completely free of charge. It’s being hosted (and taught) by N.C. Cooperative Extension staff here in Southeastern NC.

LIFT is a group-based strength training program that lasts 8 weeks. The program is for any age adult and any fitness level. Participants meet twice each week for 1-hour sessions. The classes help participants improve strength and mobility and create a habit of physical activity. Another goal of the program is to form a “community” and get to know the others in the class. There will also be a weekly email newsletter that will focus on wellness including healthy eating.

No special equipment is needed for the program. All you’ll need in addition to your computer is a sturdy chair. A set of light weight dumbbells is recommended.

The LIFT program was developed by the Physical Activity Research and Community Implementation (PARCI) Laboratory at Virginia Tech. It is being taught by Cooperative Extension Staff around the country. 

The LIFT program has been taught since 2014 and has been proven to increase Functional Fitness Assessment score in participants. Participating in LIFT can improve strength, flexibility, agility, dynamic balance and aerobic endurance of older adults. All of these can enable us to live independently longer and more safely.

To register for LIFT, visit go.ncsu.edu/southeast-lift.

FCS Agent, Rachel Bland holding a dumbbell and smiling

For more information here in Brunswick County contact Rachel Bland, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent at rebland@ncat.edu or 910.253.2610. If you like the idea of an on-going LIFT class, but would rather do it in person, talk with Rachel. She is looking to bring to out to church and community groups locally. 

Sources: 

Physical Activity Guidelines, www.health.gov

Syracuse is a Family and Consumer Science team member and can be reached at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Brunswick County Center 910-253-2610 or by email at Cheryle_Syracuse@ncsu.edu