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September Fitness Tips

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Timothy Lehman, with the 245th Air Traffic Control Squadron, South Carolina Air National Guard at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., maintains his physical fitness during a workout in the base gym May 28, 2013.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Caycee Watson/Released)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Timothy Lehman, with the 245th Air Traffic Control Squadron, South Carolina Air National Guard at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., maintains his physical fitness during a workout in the base gym May 28, 2013. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Caycee Watson/Released)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, South Carolina --
Advantages of strength training:
Do you want to reduce body fat, increase lean muscle mass and burn calories more efficiently? Strength training to the rescue! Despite its reputation as a "guy" thing, strength training is a key component of overall health and fitness for everyone.

Muscle mass naturally diminishes with age. If you don't do anything to replace the lean muscle you lose, you'll increase the percentage of fat in your body.

Strength training also helps you:

Develop strong bones. By stressing your bones, strength training increases bone density and reduces the risk of osteoporosis.

Control your weight. As you gain muscle, your body begins to burn calories more efficiently. The more toned your muscles, the easier it is to control your weight.

Boost your stamina. As you get stronger, you won't fatigue as easily. Building muscle also contributes to better balance, which can help you maintain independence as you age.

Manage chronic conditions. Strength training can reduce the signs and symptoms of many chronic conditions, including back pain, arthritis, obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

Sharpen your focus. Some research suggests that regular strength training helps improve attention for older adults.

Options for weight train include:

Body weight. You can do many exercises with little or no equipment. Try pushups, pullups, abdominal crunches and leg squats.

Resistance tubing. Resistance tubing is inexpensive, lightweight tubing that provides resistance when stretched. You can choose from many types of resistance tubes in nearly any sporting goods store.

Free weights. Barbells and dumbbells are classic strength training tools.
Weight machines.

Pre-workout snacks:
-Brown rice (1/2 cup) with black beans (1/2 cup).
-Small sweet potato mixed with steamed or lightly salted broccoli in olive oil (1 cup).
-Banana with almond butter (2 tablespoons).
-Multi-grain crackers (10) with hummus (3 tablespoons).
-Oatmeal (1/2 cup) with berries (1 cup).
-Apple and walnuts (1/4 cup)

Eat a relatively small carbohydrate and protein snack 30 to 60 minutes before you hit the gym. This combination of slow-burning carbs, protein, and a little bit of healthy fat helps to keep energy high and blood sugar levels sustained throughout a workout, while the punch of potassium from the banana for example aids in preventing cramping.

Post workout snacks:
-Salad with roasted chickpeas (1/2 cup), light olive oil and vinegar.
-Sautéed or steamed vegetables (1 cup) with a palm sized lean protein.
-Quinoa bowl (3/4 cup) with black berries (1 cup) and pecans (1/4 cup).
-Multi-grain bread (2 slices) with raw peanut butter (2 tablespoons).
-Burrito with beans (1/2 cup), brown rice (1/2 cup), guacamole (2 tablespoons), and salsa.

The post-workout meals help your body repair and replenish itself after breaking down the muscles. After training, your body is ready to accept the carbs and proteins needed to grow.