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Maybe you've noticed that it's getting harder to climb up the stairs or carry that gallon of milk. As we get older we lose muscle. This is a problem because we become more prone to falls, fractures and chronic diseases such as osteoporosis and diabetes. What if you could halt this muscle loss and even build more muscle? Well you can! Get your workout clothes and tennis shoes on. You need to start a resistance training program.
Building muscle has its perks. It decreases the stress on your heart when you perform activities that require strength, and it allows you to do strenuous activities for longer. It is important to maintain muscle strength in order to continue to live independently. Normal activities, such as carrying groceries and laundry, require strength. Leisurely activities like walking and playing golf require endurance.
CDC Growing Stronger Program
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has developed a program, called the Growing Stronger Program, for older adults to get and stay active. It consists of three stages of exercises, each getting progressively harder. To begin, warm up with five to 10 minutes of walking. You can also use a stationary bike, rowing machine, stair stepper or any type of cardio activity.
There are four exercises in the Stage 1 group. You should do Stage 1 exercises for at least two weeks before adding Stage 2 exercises. If you are fairly fit already, you can begin with both Stage 1 and 2 exercises. Start with squats, and instead of going all the way down you should use a chair. Don't sit in the chair. Stop before you get to the chair. Do two sets of 10 repetitions. Next do two sets of 10 repetitions of wall push-ups and toe stands. Finish with three sets of finger marching.
Stage 2 start with two sets of 10 biceps curls while seated in an armless chair. Use a heavy enough weight that you can only lift it 10 times. Next are step ups. You can use stairs, and a handrail may be helpful. Step up with one leg and straighten that knee while bringing up the other leg. Count to two and step down. Do this 10 times with both legs twice. Two sets of 10 repetitions of overhead presses using dumbbells are next, followed by two sets of hip abductions using a chair.
After at least six weeks of doing Stage 1 and Stage 2 exercises, it is time to add Stage 3 exercises. Do two sets of 10 repetitions of knee extensions, knee curls, pelvic tilts and floor back extensions. Make sure to do the knee extensions and knee curls on both legs. Proper form is a must when doing any of these exercises. It may be wise to consult an exercise professional when first starting out. Once you've mastered Stage 3 exercises, the CDC recommends adding abdominals curls, chest presses, lunges, upright rows and grip strengthening activities.
In order to have beneficial results from your workout, you need to be doing enough. The American College of Sports Medicine has some general recommendations for strength training in older individuals. Always get your doctor's OK before starting an exercise program. Do strength training three times a week for 20 to 45 minutes. Allow 48 hours of rest between sessions. You may have to work up to this. Unless advised not to by your doctor, you should try to progress your program every month. This may consist of increasing the number of workouts, the amount of weight used, the number of repetitions, the number of exercises for each muscle group and the length of your workout.