Exercises for Seniors Using Hand Weights
As you age, regular exercise and strength training become even more important. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that regular strength training is safe and effective for seniors. Various medical conditions including arthritis, diabetes, back pain and depression see symptom reduction by regular strength training. The use of hand weights provides flexibility for senior exercise programs.
Before You Begin
Before you start any exercise program, consult with your physician. This is especially true if you have any medical problems. Next, get yourself a set of hand weights. Elder Gym suggests picking up a set of 2-pound, 3-pound, 5-pound and 8-pound weights. Begin with the lowest weight. Once you can comfortably do 15 to 20 repetitions of one exercise, move to the next weight.
Begin by working your arms. Sit back in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Hold the weights in your hands with palms facing inward and arms resting at your side. Slowly raise your arms out to your side to shoulder height. Hold this for one to two seconds. Slowly lower your arms to the starting position. Begin with eight to 10 repetitions and slowly increase as you are comfortable.
From the same sitting position for the arm raise, you can move to the shoulder press. Hold the weights in each hand and raise the hands to shoulder level. Slowly raise the right arm above your head until fully extended. Hold this position for one to two seconds and slowly lower to the starting position. As you lower the right arm, slowly raise the left arm in the same manner. Perform eight to 10 repetitions with each arm and increase as you are comfortable.
You use the same sitting position for the bicep curl. Place the weights in each hand and relax your arms at your side. Bend your left elbow and raise your hand toward your shoulder. As you return to the starting position, bend your right elbow and raise your hand toward your shoulder. Repeat for eight to 10 repetitions with each arm. Gradually increase repetitions as you are able.
Standing Calf Raises
Hand weights can also be effective for working muscles in your lower body. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and the weights in your hands with your arms relaxed at your side. Slowly raise your heels off the floor until you feel the stretch in your calves. Hold the stretch for one to two seconds. Slowly lower to the starting position. Repeat for eight to 10 repetitions. Gradually increase repetitions as you are able.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Health and Human Services Department recommends strength training at least twice a week for seniors. Rest at least one day between workouts. If you do not have access to regular hand weights, substitute regular household items such as food cans or water bottles. These exercises should not hurt. If you feel pain, stop and consult a physician.
Deborah Lundin is a professional writer with more than 20 years of experience in the medical field and as a small business owner. She studied medical science and sociology at Northern Illinois University. Her passions and interests include fitness, health, healthy eating, children and pets.