Did you know that doing strengthening exercises two times a week has major health benefits, including improving physical, mental, and emotional well-being?
When done correctly, strength exercises can help reduce symptoms of health conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, depression, osteoporosis, and back pain. Strength exercises can also help with weight control and better sleep. In addition, strengthening exercises can build muscle and improve balance, which helps prevent falls.
Fortunately, to get these benefits, you don’t need to go to a gym and sweat with the body builders! There are simple exercises you can do at home with inexpensive equipment, and many of these items are available from Rite Aid.
Before you start, check with your doctor to make sure the exercises you want to do are safe for you. And, if you have never done strengthening exercises before, you may want to check with your local YMCA, hospital, or community center to see if there are classes for beginners.
Here are specific types of strengthening equipment and suggestions for exercises to try:
- Resistance bands. Using resistance bands are an excellent way to improve strength. They don’t take up much space and are easy to bring with you if you travel. Examples of strength exercises using resistance bands are arm curls or seated row.
- Lightweight barbells. You can add weight to your strength routine with lightweight barbells. You might want to start with lightweight barbells at home for exercises such as wrist curls, arm curls, or arm raises.
- Free weights. Free weights such as barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, and medicine balls can improve muscle strength as well. It’s best to learn how to use these in a class or with a fitness instructor who is experienced in how to use them.
For the most health benefits, work all your major muscle groups when you do your strength exercises. You don’t have to cover all the areas at once. You may consider focusing on one area of the body each time you work out and rotate to a different area the next time. For each strength session, aim for 8-12 repetitions of 8-10 different exercises.
You can also use your body weight for simple strengthening exercises you can do at home. Examples include wall pushups, chair dips, and chair stands. Doing yoga or Pilates are also great ways to build strength by using your body weight.
When you first begin with strength exercises, start slow and progress gradually. Trying to do too many repetitions can cause injury. It’s ok to challenge yourself, but listen to your body when you exercise and don’t overdo it. If you feel pain, shortness of breath, dizzy, or lightheaded, or if you have a racing heartbeat, stop exercising. Tell your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.
And, finally, don’t forget to breathe! Holding your breath while you strain to lift or use resistance bands can cause changes in blood pressure. Breathe out as you lift or push and breathe in as you relax.
Exercise and Physical Activity, National Institute on Aging
Growing Stronger: Strength Training for Older Adults, Centers for Disease Control
Improve Your Strength: Go4Life, National Institute on Aging
Safe Strength Training, National Institute on Aging
Selecting and Effectively Using a Health Fitness Facility, American College of Sports Medicine
Selecting and Effectively Using a Medicine Ball, American College of Sports Medicine
Strength and Balance Exercises, American Heart Association
Why Strength Training? Centers for Disease Control