Non-Scientific Research Project to Determine The Effects of Running on Overall Muscular Strength

The company I work for is part of a larger health care organization that recently launched an incentivized workplace wellness program.  In order for employees to get ‘points’ for the incentive they had to take the five part fitness test.  This is a standard test that was originally created by the YMCA but has been adopted by so many groups and organizations that everyone in the fitness industry is familiar with it.

The five part test measures:

  • Cardiovascular endurance  – three minute step test
  • Abdominal strength – one minute full sit-up test
  • Upper body strength – one minute push-up test (ladies can be on their knees)
  • Lower body strength – one minute wall site
  • Flexibility – sit and reach test

I helped my company administer the test for about 250 employees at my location. While the test is somewhat ordinary, the results for some of the individuals were not.

I can easily divide the employees into three basic groups:

Group 1 – Arrived early, chest out, competitive juices flowing ready for the challenge.  They aced all five parts.

Group 2 – Came on time but loaded with excuses.  “I turned my knee playing basketball last night.” “I know I haven’t been working out like I should.”  “I suck and I’m here to prove it to you.”

Group 3 – Semi-confident.  Not as confident as Group One but not sucky like Group Two.  This group feels good about their abilities because they’ve been going to town on their cardio program.  A couple of the women shared with me that they were training for a local marathon that was coming up; one had run the event with her husband last year.

Simplified, the results of my research project are:

Question?  What  Influence Does Running Have On Four Out of The Five Components of the Test?
Answer:  Zero.

The participants that were focusing only on running were not able to complete the one minute push-up or sit-up test or do the wall-sit.  The gal that ran the marathon last year and was training to do it again this year could not squeak out four push-ups and only did about ten sit-ups.

Obviously, for someone like me that loves, loves, loves dumbbells, weighted body bars and kettle balls this was an opportunity for me to say, “You’re doing a great job with your cardio!  Have you ever thought about adding some strength training to your routine?”

I read an article in the Huffington Post last week that talked about the benefits of strength training on the aging process.  Tons of research – the scientific kind – has been done that proves that strength training helps us control our weight, prevents osteoporosis and has a positive effect on glycogen stores.  And if that’s not enough to be convincing, the best part is it helps us look better.

One of the comments in the Huffington Post article was that this was old news (snooze) and it wasn’t necessary to repeat it.  There has been a lot written about the topic but not everyone has gotten the message.  A lot of people, from marathon runners to treadmill walkers, get their cardio in and call it a day.

Strength training doesn’t have to be hard, take a lot of time and it doesn’t require a need a gym membership. A workout DVD and an inexpensive set of dumbbells will get you started.  Here’s a couple DVD suggestions:

  • Ageless with Kathy Smith – Four 15-minute workouts.  This video has many of the basic strength moves and Kathy is excellent at cuing for proper form.  This workout is very user friendly.  It requires a set of dumbbells.  Price:  $12.99
  • Jackie Warner X-Treme Timesaver Training – This workout uses compound moves to utilize multiple muscle groups at one time.  You’ll need a set of dumbbells.  Price: $11.99
  • Ellen Barrett’s Slim Sculpt – Blends Pilates and weight-room style toning.  The movements are more fluid than in your typical strength training session.  The style is unique and well done.  Again, a set of dumbbells is all that is required.  Price: $13.99

You can watch video clips of these and other workout DVDs before you buy at Collage Video.