With the rise of chronic diseases, some form of exercise is being advocated for everyone, even the very young and the elderly. Exercise becomes especially important as we age because of the physical condition sarcopenia, which is an age-related progressive loss of muscle mass and strength. While there is always a precaution to consult your doctor before starting a routine, exercising is considered a vital step to long life and good health.
What does this mean, you might ask? We know that the human skeleton works together with our muscles for movement. We know that with consistent efforts of strenuous movements, for example, doing construction or working in the garden, this leads to muscular gains. Though these everyday movements are beneficial, often, many of our muscles are underutilized – (muscles that contribute to greater strength output, balance, and flexibility).
Therefore, some form of regular resistance training exercise is important for improvement of overall physical health. Women should engage in resistance training, as they are at greater risk of getting osteoporosis. A disease that weakens bones to the point that they become brittle. This increases the chances of fractures from falls.
There are three types of exercises that are normally discussed: isotonic, isokinetic, and isometric. Isotonic exercise is when a muscle goes through a full range of motion, by lengthening and shortening against some form of resistance. Isotonic exercise incorporates resistance of some kind whether that be machines, bands, or free weights; and Isokinetic exercise is the use of specialized equipment that provides varying resistance to a movement and allows muscle to contract at constant speeds.
Isometric exercise is when the muscle and tendons remain at a constant length and the affected joint does not move. The main reasons for engaging in muscular training is to increase strength, gain muscle mass and improve overall quality of life. The benefits of performing isometric exercises are that it improves tendon quality, increases bone density, increases muscular strength, and delays muscular fatigue.
Improving tendon quality leads to greater joint movement by alleviating and managing tendon pain. As with muscular training, specificity is most important which is why strength is gained in only the localized areas. As an example, holding a squat in the downward phase of the movement, will improve strength in the ligaments and tendons of the knee joint.
The increase of bone density is when your bones are more compact and contain the requisite minerals such as calcium and phosphorus, which makes them less likely to be fractured and experience greater force impact from jumps. Increases in muscular strength helps to improve quality of daily life, as we are better able to carry out daily task with less strain and free of pain. It is also a technique used among lifters and athletes as it can be used to break through strength plateaus by exposing weaknesses.
For example, if an individual struggles to get out of the bottom phase of the squat, isometric holds at the bottom of the squat can increase strength in the working muscles to better execute the lower phase of the movement.
It is important to note, that isometric training can be utilized by just about anyone due to utilizing one’s own body weight. Though it can be more challenging by utilizing weights and resistance training bands.
Therefore, isometric exercise is great for those dealing with an injury, bone conditions, resistance training plateaus and for individuals that prefer low impact training.
Isometric training is especially helpful in improving core strength; which is vital for stabilizing the whole musculature (body), and for improving power transfer when executing movements. This form of training can develop one’s ability to have better control of breathing patterns, balance, and overall stability.
Before beginning exercise, a warmup should be performed to reduce the risk of injury. Warmups should consist of dynamic stretches, specifically movements that are to mimic the exercises in your routine. It also consists of increasing body temperature, which can be done by performing jumping jacks or a brisk walk on the treadmill.
The main disadvantage of isometric training is measuring the difficulty of the task. Though there are a few ways of measuring improvements in this form of training. For instance, the ability to hold a movement for a longer time shows increases in muscular endurance. Also, the ability to add weight to a movement that was once done only with bodyweight shows increases in muscular strength. Another disadvantage of isometric training is that it can increase blood pressure while performing the movement due to blood moving to the localized area, this can be an issue for those with high blood pressure and heart related conditions. Despite this, it helps to improve resting blood pressure. Isometric exercise is best paired with isotonic exercise, especially for muscle hypertrophy.
The goal of this article is to encourage others to move their bodies, as it truly determines the quality of one’s life as you age. Before prescribing to exercise, it is important to get a clearance check from your doctor.
Written by Ria Garcia-Frett
Ria Garcia-Frett is a Qualified Exercise Professional and can be reached at 284-441-3688 or by email at email@example.com
If interested in improving your health and body composition, follow her on IG at riakfrett and FB at 180fitnessvi.