I did aerobic workouts until the cows came home, easily meeting the government’s recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week. But I rarely picked up a dumbbell or did a push-up. I definitely didn’t follow the government’s advice to work out all my major muscle groups with resistance training at least twice a week.
I wasn’t the only one falling short on that front. Federal data show that, overall, adults do a much better job of meeting the requirements for aerobic activity than both aerobic and strength training.
That discrepancy is more pronounced among women. Among women aged 25 to 64, for example, 49 percent report getting the recommended amount of aerobic exercise, while just 18 percent report meeting the guidelines for both types of exercise. Among men in the same age range, those figures were 53 percent and 25 percent.
That’s too bad. There’s evidence that both types of exercise have many common benefits, such as a lowered risk of Type 2 diabetes, says Stuart Phillips, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. But he says that only resistance training — or possibly heavier, weight-bearing aerobic exercise — seems to alleviate the risk of osteoporosis.
Keeping up muscle mass as you age also helps you keep up the activities of everyday life and prevents injuries when you’re older. “If you can maintain or preserve some of that muscle mass, your risk of sarcopenia is lower, and we believe there’s a lower risk of falling and fracturing bones,” says Roger Fielding, director and senior scientist of the Nutrition, Exercise Physiology and Sarcopenia Laboratory at Tufts University’s Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging.
Women outlive men, on average, but often spend their final years in institutional care because …