make it affordable
“I’m 69 and live on my Social Security income. My kids try to spoil me, but I’d rather do things on my own as much as possible. When looking for a fitness center where I could use strength-building equipment, I bargained the owner down to a monthly fee that I could afford. I started with 1-pound weights and gradually moved on to heavier weights. I also added stretching to my routine. I’ve always been active, but never as much as I am now. Joining the fitness center has done me a world of good. The owner of my club holds me up as an example, and my family is so proud of me.”
Even very small changes in muscle strength can make a real difference in function, especially in people who have already lost a lot of muscle. An increase in muscle that you can’t even see can make it easier to do everyday things like get up from a chair, climb stairs, carry groceries, open jars, and even play with your grandchildren. Lower-body strength exercises also will improve your balance.
To do most of the strength exercises in this book, you need to lift or push weights. You can use weights, resistance bands, or common objects from your home. Or, you can use the strength-training equipment at a fitness center or gym. Start with light weights and gradually increase the amount of weight you use.
Try to do strength exercises for all of your major muscle groups on 2 or more days per week for 30-minute sessions each, but don’t exercise the same muscle group on any 2 days in a row. (Use the Weekly Exercise and Physical Activity Plan in Chapter 7.)
A repetition, or rep, is one complete movement of an exercise, and a set is one group of reps. In this guide, a set of strength exercises is 10 to 15 repetitions. You can use the Strength and Balance Daily Record on page 106 to keep track of the number of strength exercises you do.
Want to be able to lift your carry-on bag into the overhead bin of the airplane or get in and out of the car more easily? Keep doing those strength exercises, and you’ll get there.
Muscle strength is progressive over time. Gradually increase the amount of weight you use to build strength. When you can do 2 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions easily, increase the amount of weight at your next session.
Here’s an example of how to progress gradually: Start out with a weight that you can lift only 8 times. Keep using that weight until you become strong enough to lift it easily 10 to 15 times. When you can do 2 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions easily, add more weight so that, again, you can lift it only 8 times. Keep repeating until you reach your goal, and then maintain that level as long as you can.
Challenge yourself, but listen to your body, and use common sense when you exercise.
If you feel sick or have pain during or after exercise, you’re doing too much.
Exhaustion, sore joints, and painful muscle pulling mean you’re overdoing it. None of the exercises should cause severe pain.
Over-exercising can cause injury, which may lead to quitting altogether.A steady rate of progress is the best approach.
Resistance bands are stretchy elastic bands that come in several strengths, from light to heavy. You can use them in some strength exercises instead of weights.
You don’t have to go out and buy weights for strength exercises. Find something you can hold on to easily. For example, you can make your own weights from unbreakable household items:
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