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Breathing Quiz
Which of the following health conditions is not directly benefited by breathing exercises?
eeping Fit

Exercise For Better Health And Sports Performance

© Wayne L. Westcott PhD

The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Keeping Fit by Wayne L. Westcott PhD. View all columns in series

One answer is to work with a competent personal trainer, either at home or in a well-equipped fitness facility. Unfortunately, the cost of personal exercise training may be prohibitive for many people. Fortunately, there is another alternative that has proven highly satisfactory for adults who desire careful instruction, close supervision, and a somewhat private training environment. Based largely on several years of research at the South Shore YMCA, many fitness facilities now offer small classes in a separate exercise area for beginning participants.

The program model we have developed is based on 6 class members with 2 instructors in a private exercise room. Each class session is less than an hour in length, with approximately 25 minutes of strength training (12 Nautilus machines) and 20 minutes of aerobic activity (treadmill walking, stationary cycling).

The following table presents findings from a few of our studies using the small group training model. The results were obtained from more than 1100 men and women who completed an 8-week program of regular exercise, 2 or 3 days per week.

Excercise Class Program Muscle Change Fat Change Blood Pressure Change Club Speed Change

Seniors Group + 2 lbs. - 4 lbs. - 5 mm Hg. not assessed
Weight Loss Group* + 3 lbs. - 8 lbs. - 4 mm Hg. not assessed
Golfers Group** + 4 lbs. - 4 lbs. - 4 mm Hg. + 5 mph

* Weight Loss Group received nutrition and diet information.

** Golfers group performed strength training and stretching exercise.

In addition to our work with adults, we have found the small class model equally effective for youth. We typically train 12 boys and girls with 4 instructors in our separate youth strength training room. The 8 to 12 year old program participants have averaged over 90 percent class attendance, more than 50 percent increase in overall muscle strength, and significant improvements in body composition.

Another benefit of initiating an exercise program in a small class context is the learning factor. After 8 weeks of instruction and supervision, more than 90 percent of the class participants have the competence and confidence to continue exercising on their own.

If you are an inactive individual who wants to start a sensible and successful exercise program, check out beginner classes at some of the fine fitness facilities in the South Shore area. You will find a variety of small group programs from which to choose. If you would like more information on strength training principles and procedures for seniors, adults, youth, and golfers, you are invited to attend my 75-minute slide presentation on Wednesday, January 7th at 6:00 p.m. at the South Shore YMCA. Please call my assistant, Susan Ramsden, at (617) 479-8500, extension 132 to register for this free information session.

Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D., is Fitness Research Director at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, MA., and author of several books on fitness including Building Strength and Stamina, and his most recent publication, Strength Training Past 50.

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About The Author
Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D., is fitness research director at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, MA. He is strength training consultant for numerous national organizations, such as the American Council on Exercise, the American Senior Fitness Association, and the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation, and editorial advisor for many publications, including Prevention, Shape, and......more
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