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Exercising for Strength


Strength exercises make your muscles stronger. Even small increases in strength can make a big difference in your ability to stay independent and carry out everyday activities, such as climbing stairs and carrying groceries. These exercises also are called "strength training" or "resistance training."

  • Lifting Weights
  • Using a resistance band
Sample Strength Exercise: Front Arm Raise

How Much, How Often

Try to do strength exercises for all of your major muscle groups on two or more days per week for 30-minute sessions each, but don't exercise the same muscle group on any two days in a row.

  • Depending on your condition, you might need to start out using 1- or 2-pound weights or no weight at all.
  • Use a light weight the first week and then gradually add more weight.
  • It should feel somewhere between hard and very hard for you to lift or push the weight. If you can't lift or push a weight 8 times in a row, it's too heavy.
  • Take 3 seconds to lift a weight into place, hold for 1 second, and return in 3 seconds.

Exercise Instructions:

This exercise for your shoulders can help you put things up on a shelf or take them down more easily.

Targeted Muscles:

What You Need:
Hand-held weights

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.

  1. Hold weights straight down at your sides, with palms facing backward.
  2. Keeping them straight, breathe out as you raise both arms in front of you to shoulder height.
  3. Hold the position for 1 second.
  4. Breathe in as you slowly lower arms.
  5. Repeat 10-15 times.
  6. Rest; then repeat 10-15 more times.

As you progress, use a heavier weight and alternate arms until you can lift the weight comfortably with both arms.

  • Talk with your doctor if you are unsure about doing a particular exercise, especially if you've had hip or back surgery.
  • Don't hold your breath during strength exercises. Holding your breath while straining can cause changes in blood pressure. Breathe in slowly through your nose and breathe out slowly through your mouth.
  • Breathe out as you lift or push, and breathe in as you relax.
  • For some exercises, you may want to start alternating arms and work your way up to using both arms at the same time.
  • To prevent injury, don't jerk or thrust weights. Use smooth, steady movements.
  • Muscle soreness lasting a few days and slight fatigue are normal after muscle-building exercises, at least at first. After doing these exercises for a few weeks, you will probably not be sore after your workout.

Spring 2012 Issue: Volume 7 Number 1 Page 8