Why Get Strong?
From the age of 30, our muscles naturally deteriorate, albeit slowly.
However research has proved that our muscles continue to respond to stimulus (ie they can get stronger) at any age.
By strengthening your muscles this leads to stronger joints, bones and less aches.
Getting around and doing things (enjoying life) is about strength. There is also evidence that maintaining good muscle strength helps to reduce 'visceral' fat - which is the fat stored around major organs and has the worst impact on overall health.
Don't worry (If you were worried!) that doing these exercises will lead to developing a muscle builders body! They may improve tone but the important thing is they will be stronger.
As with all exercise, you should challenge yourself, but only slowly and incrementally, increasing the level over time. Try to do 10 repetitions of the exercise per set, if you can do another 30 then you are not challenging yourself enough!
Do not do these exercises without medical advice if you are in pain or have been advised caution by your GP.
You can exercise to build strength using a range of everyday objects and even your body
The Press Up:
The press up is well known - to build arm and chest strength. The exercise can be carried out in a range of progressions:
1) Using a strength band (either sitting or standing). Start with your hands close to your shoulders and the band reasonably tight. Then 'push' your hands out until your arm is straight. Slowly return to your starting position.
The following progressions also require control from your 'core' so provide greater benefit:
2) Leaning against a wall - make sure your focus the movement in your arms rather than the rest of your body - which should be kept straight. The further your feet are away from the wall - the more difficult it gets.
3) Press up from the floor
4) Pressing up from the floor with your legs raised - this increases the weight on your arms.
Try one of these options - if you can do up to ten at a time - progress to the next option.
Try to 'balance' this exercise with exercises that involve 'pulling'. - see examples below.
This is to ensure you match the benefits of muscles which work in the opposite way.
SIT TO STAND - strengthen your legs
Start sitting on the chair - bring yourself a little to the front of the chair.
Then stand up!
If it is difficult with your arms folded, try them in front of you as counter balance.
An easier option is to hold on the chair to help yourself up. This is fine - to start with, but don't lean to one side and keep the support even each side.
Then - ensuring the chair is secure behind you - sit back down the same way. Don't drop down / bounce at the bottom!
Repeat several times (why not try every time you sit to the dinner table).
Find a suitable weight - eg Milk Container
You can use a whole range of every day objects to help improve your strength.
A used milk container is a good option. Fill it with water - the more it is filled the heavier it will be. (Dont forget to put the lid on properly though!.
Other options can include paintcans or tins of food.
Here are a few options:
1) Curls (either one arm at a time or both), only move your lower half of your arm.
2) Straight arm raises (either side ways / forwards / or inbetween!)
3)Lift above your head (if your feel safer you can do this sitting down)
4) Wood chop – with straight arms extend diagnally repeat opposite way.
USING A STRETCH BAND:
We can provide a FREE stretch band to residents in B30, B31, B38 and B45 areas. Contact us.
Stretch bands are very easy to use. By adjusting the tightness of the band you can easily adjust the intensity.
There are two ways to hold your stretch bands, and this can make a difference to your comfort and ability to do the exercise
Where the top of the band will lie above your
Where the thumb
points to the middle
of the band: (like
holding a broom)
Arm Curl - (Pull)
Hold both ends of the band using the 'thumbs up' hold.
Place one foot over the middle of the band.
Stand up straight.
Start with your arms straight, hands by your side.
Keep your elbows still, by your side.
Then slowly lift / curl your arm to your shoulder..
Return your arm down slowly.
Hold the band with your palms facing down with hands slightly more than shoulder width apart Keep your arm straight then raise your arms to shoulder height. Then move one arm away to stretch the band (keeping the other arm facing forward), then bring the arm back and repeat with the other side.
Alternatively you can also move both arms apart at the same time.
Straight Arm Raises:
Place your foot securely over the middle of the band. Use the 'thumbs up' hold. Keep your arm straight and start with your hands by your side. Then raise your arms to your side if possible to shoulder height.
Try to ensure the movement is isolated at your arm/ shoulders, keep upright. (if you feel you body move to compensate then you may have the band too tight.
This exercise can be carried out one side at a time.
Leg extension (Note:Sit to stands are better)
This exercise may be useful as a starter to strengthen your legs.
Sitting on a chair, hold both ends of the band and place one foot over the middle of the band.
Start with your leg bent and your knee above the level of the band and holding the band tight. You must then streighten your leg pushing your foot away.
This exercise can be easily undertaken incorrectly if you do not ensure you start the move with your knee above the band.
If / when you are able to, progress to a version of the sitting to stand chair exercise even if you require support with your hands to start with!