Spring has arrived in full force and we are beginning to see more and more Arkansans enjoying the outdoors through physical activity.

If you don’t currently have a fitness routine, or maybe you have wanted to start, but you just didn’t know how, let me encourage you to find a way to invest in your health.

The benefits of regular exercise for people of all ages have been well established in the literature. Regular physical activity and exercise are associated with decreased risk of death and/or disability from pathologies such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, cancer and pulmonary disease.

It is also associated with positive psychological benefits such as decreased depression and improved quality of life.

Nevertheless, inactivity continues to be a major public health concern with people not exercising as recommended.

The Strong Women and Men program is a 12 week strength training class that is geared for women and men age 40 and older.

It is a low-impact exercise program that will help you increase your strength, increase your endurance, increase your balance, increase your flexibility, and help you look and feel better.

The goal of strength training is to grow stronger.

Strength training is when we work the skeletal muscles of our bodies harder than they are used to.

Strength training increases strength, anaerobic endurance and muscle mass.

In general, adults and senior adults should get 150 minutes of exercise a week, and this needs to be in bouts of at least 10 minutes in length. When you break this down, 150 minutes is only about 20 minutes a day 7 days a week, 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week or 50 minutes a day for 3 days a week.

However, the amount and type of physical activity individuals should get each week differs based on factors such as age and special conditions, such as pregnancy and the postpartum period for women, disabilities and chronic medical or health conditions.

For all individuals, some activity is better than none.

Strength training makes you stronger by building muscle. This increased strength allows you to perform daily activities on your own.

In addition to increased strength and muscle mass, strength training also increases bone density. Strength training also plays a key role in keeping obesity and diabetes at bay by increasing your metabolism, which helps you maintain a healthy weight and normal blood sugar levels.

Studies also suggest strength training may help prevent the progression of osteoporosis.

Strong Women is a strength-training program originally designed for mid-life and older women; however, our program has been expanded to include men.

The University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service in Faulkner County currently sponsors two classes in Faulkner County.

The Conway class is open for enrollment. This class meets Monday and Wednesday mornings from 9-10 at Antioch Baptist Church.

If you would like to know how you can get connected with a class, contact Melanie Malone at 329-8344. We are also currently looking for areas to expand the program. If you have a location or an interest in hosting a class please let us know.

April 23 — New Strong Women class starts 9 a.m. Antioch Baptist Church

April 24 — Garden Program in Conway County - Morrilton

April 28 — Pecan Propagation in White County

May 11 — Pesticide Application Training at 1 p.m., at the Tommy Lewis Conference Center

May 12 — Faulkner County Master Gardener Plant Sale

May 19 — Opening Weekend of the Conway Farmers Market