Tuesday, December 11, 2007

50-Minute Strength Workout

Yes, I am a member of AARP. My husband turned 50 last year and I did this year. The picture below is from the latest edition of the AARP Bulletin. The article, "The 50-Minute Strength Workout", suggests putting aside 50 minutes a week--two days of 25 minutes each. I would add, if that seems too hard, then try 5-10 minutes each day, rotating the exercises you do so that each muscle group gets used.

Remember that for most of our "life" activities, we need to keep those muscles strong. I know that for myself (I had an anterior cervical fusion, C6-7, done over 15 years ago), doing my pull ups (under-handed chin ups) and push-ups helps me perform surgery and carry groceries (as many bags as I can at one time) with fewer muscle aches in my neck and shoulders. I can tell the difference if I miss too many days. These are exercises I can do at home, as my husband put a chin-up bar in my closet doorway for me. They only take a few minutes.


We all know that these activities will help us:

  • build strength

  • maintain bone density (important for both women and men)

  • improve balance, coordination, and mobility

  • reduce your risk of falling

  • maintain independence in performing activities
    of daily life.

The old saying is true when it comes to muscle: “Use it or lose it.” The first reference listed below, Growing Stronger--Strength Training for Older Adults, is a very nice "book" that will walk you through all the exercises.

Some exercises need no equipment.

S Q UAT S
A great exercise for strengthening hips, thighs, and buttocks. Before long, you’ll find that walking, jogging, and climbing stairs are a snap!
1. Stand directly in front of a sturdy chair. Your feet should be slightly
more than shoulder width apart. Extend your arms so that they are parallel to the ground.
2. Place your weight more on your heels than on the balls of your feet. Bend your knees as you lower your buttocks towards the chair in a slow, controlled motion, while you count to 4.
3. Pause. Then, slowly rise back up to a standing position as you count to 2. Keep your knees over your ankles and your back straight.
Repeat the squat ten times. This equals 1 set. Rest for about 1 minute. Then complete a second set of 10 squats.

WA L L P U S H - U P S
This exercise is a modified version of the push-up you may have done years ago in physical education classes. It is easier than a push-up and you don’t need to get down on the floor—but it will help to strengthen your arms, shoulders, and chest.

1. Find a wall that is clear of any objects such as wall hangings and windows. Stand a little farther than arm’s length from the wall. Face the wall, lean your body forward and place your palms flat against the wall at about shoulder height and shoulder-width apart.
2. Bend your elbows as you lower your upper body toward the wall in a slow, controlled motion as you count to 4. Keep your feet planted.
3. Pause. Then, slowly push yourself back until your arms are straight as you count to 4. Make sure you don’t lock your elbows.
Repeat the wall push-up 10 times for 1 set. Rest for about 1 minute. Then do a second set of 10 wall push-ups.


Other exercises will need weights--these can be actual weight or a bottle of water (half-full or full).

BICEPS CURL


This one will help that gallon of milk feel a lot less heavy.
1. Stand or sit in a chair with a dumbbell in each hand. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart with your arms at your sides and your palms facing your thighs.



2. Rotate your forearms and slowly lift the weights as you count to 2. Your palms should be facing in towards your shoulders. Keep your upper arms and elbows close to your side—as if you had a newspaper tucked under your arm.
3. Pause. Then, slowly lower the dumbbells back towards your thighs as you count to four. Rotate your forearms so that your arms are again at your sides, palms facing your thighs. Repeat 10 times for 1 set. Rest for about 1 minute. Then complete a second set of 10 repetitions.



For more exercises check these references and live strong:


Growing Stronger--Strength Training for Older Adults (pdf file from the CDC) and More Exercises


Strength Training for Women


Balance, stretching and strength training -- Mayo Clinic

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