Do you enjoy a free weight workout? Did I hear anyone say "YES?" If you are not enjoying your weight workout, try using music to provide the structure for your workout. In other words, let the music determine the speed of your contraction … up on counts one & two, down on counts three & four. Don't just play music in the background and ignore it. Actually use the music to guide your movement. Yes, you are dancing with the weights.
Now, don't go slinging them about and jumping around with them. That would be very dangerous. Always move very carefully with them, and if you've never had instruction for the proper way to use weights, it's very important to do so. It is crucial to incorporate all muscle groups and to balance the exercises front and back, upper and lower body.
Most seniors will benefit greatly by using one to three pound weights. ACSM and AHA recommend strength training at least two times a week on nonconsecutive days. The level of effort should be moderate (5 to 6, on a 10-point scale where 0 = sitting on your couch and 10 = carrying your couch) to high (7 or 8). Eight to ten exercises should be performed, with a repetition range of 10 to 15 reps. Strength training exercises should be progressive and involve all of the major muscle groups.
The benefits of strength training with light weights are numerous. The following list will give you an idea of the importance of including weight training in your daily exercise. Sometimes seniors will say to me, "Oh, I walk every day." And, I can't deny that walking is great exercise. However, the new science of aging suggests that it is not enough!
During the past 15 years studies have demonstrated resistance or strength training produces multiple fitness benefits for older adults.
Based on the research consider the following benefits of resistance training:
• Strength training can reduce the signs and symptoms of many chronic conditions, including arthritis, back pain, depression, diabetes, obesity and osteoporosis.
• Minimizes or helps to avoid the loss of lean body mass. Adults lose between 5-7 pounds of muscle every decade after age 20. Only strength training prevents muscle loss.
• Helps to maintain an active metabolic rate. Physically inactive adults experience a 2-5 percent reduction in their basal metabolic rate per decade.
• May actually increase lean muscle mass. Research has shown that a program following ACSM strength training guidelines (2-3 sets of 8-12 reps) working for 25 minutes three times per week, increased lean body mass an average of 3 pounds over an eight week period.
• Increases Resting Basal Metabolic Rate. Adding three pounds of muscle can increase an individual's resting metabolism 7 percent, and the daily calorie requirements by 15 percent. At rest a pound of muscle burns approximately 35 calories per day.
• Lowers Body Fat. Research in strength training has demonstrated a 4 pound fat loss after 3 months of training, even though the individuals in the study increased their daily caloric intake by 15 percent.
• Increases Bone Mineral Density. Research has shown a significant increase in muscle myoproteins, and bone osteoproteins and mineral content after 4 months of training.
• Improved Glucose Metabolism. Research has demonstrated a 23 percent improvement in glucose uptake after 4 months of strength training. The American Diabetic Association states that resistance training is critical in improving glucose clearance.
• Increases Gastrointestinal Transit Time Studies have shown a 56 percent increase in gastrointestinal transit time after 3 months of resistance training time.
• Reduces Resting Blood Pressure. Strength training reduces resting blood pressure an average of 5 mm Hg. Both systolic and diastolic values after 2 months of training.
• Improves Blood Lipid Levels. Several studies have revealed improved blood lipid profiles after several weeks of strength training. The improvements noted are similar for both endurance and strength exercise.
• Reduces low back pain. A 1993 study found that low back patients had significantly less back pain after 10 weeks of specific (full range) strength exercise for the lumbar spine muscles. It is important to note that over 80 percent of American adults suffer from either chronic or acute back pain.
• Tufts University Diet and Nutrition Letter (1994) published a study on sensible strength training resulting in reducing the pain of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
• Improves balance. Recent research has proven that strength training improves the work of neurotransmitters (chemicals) in the brain that improve balance functions.
Use free weights immediately following an aerobic warm-up. Be sure to warm up all joints that will be used in the weight sequence for the day. Your workout will generally take four – six songs depending on the length of the songs – approximately fifteen to twenty minutes.
First exercise always! Stand with a weight in each hand, correct all posture points-shoulders relaxed and back, belly button to the backbone, engaged core muscles, tight glutes, loose knees, neck relaxed, head up. Core muscles are lifting up while the weights are resisting and pulling down. With resistance comes strength!