Lifting light weights can improve your health in a number of ways. The most obvious benefit is that it can help you build lean muscle so you will be more toned and trim. The muscle you build has many benefits for your health. First, it helps stabilize your joints, which can protect you from injury or damage to your joints that might be caused by arthritic conditions such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
Second, a good solid set of core muscles will support all of your other muscle groups and help protect against a bad back. Third, it can improve your overall strength, balance and stability, making you less likely to fall and break a hip or other bones as you age.
Many older people who fall and break a bone do so because of osteoporosis, a thinning of the bones that happens from menopause onwards in women. It can also occur in men, though not as often. Weight bearing exercise such as lifting light weights encourages bone growth and sturdier muscles.
Using light weights can also improve your metabolism to help you lose weight. In addition to burning calories as you lift, about 300 to 400 per session, lean muscle burns calories more efficiently than fat cells. This means the calories you consume are less likely to be stored and more likely to be burned, leading to weight management or weight loss.
Even if you do not see the scale budge very much when you are first working out with light weights, you should soon see that your clothes fit better and you are not as ‘jiggly’ as you were in your upper arms, belly and thighs. This can lead to improved confidence and even more motivation to work out with your weights.
Working out with light weights improves your strength and circulation too. Once you start working out consistently a couple of times a week, you will soon be able to add more repetitions to your work out and more sets of repetitions. Eventually you will be able to work up to a heavier weight.
As you lift, the movement will increase your circulation and lower blood pressure. Even better, light weights have been shown to improve cholesterol levels and also blood glucose levels, an important consideration for anyone who is diabetic or prediabetic. Studies have shown that losing as few as 10 pounds can actually reverse diabetes in some people.
Since those with arthritis, especially rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and diabetes often have circulatory and heart health problems, lifting light weights can be a low impact, high benefit workout for the entire body. Using dumbbells, wrist weights, and/or ankle weights also means you can concentrate on your trouble spots that bother you most by hitting those areas , such as flabby arms, and soon develop the kind of biceps you’ve always dreamed of by using a series of isolation exercises.
Alternating strength training using light weights every other day or twice a week with cardio activity such as walking, cycling or swimming is an excellent exercise routine no matter what your age. It will improve your health as long as you listen to your body and put safety first by not trying to do too much too soon.
How to Develop Your Own Light Weights Lifting Program
By now most people have heard of the many health benefits of light weights training, from toning and trimming muscles and losing fat and weight, to improved circulation, metabolism and joint health. However, most people are not sure how to get started with their own weight lifting program.
There is a lot of free information in the Internet, true, but it can be confusing and contradictory. It is also often directed at younger people and therefore does not take into account the unique health challenges of anyone over 40 who would like to develop, enjoy and stick to their own light weights program.
The first step in formulating the right program for you is to determine whether or not you are fit enough to exercise using light weights. Check with your doctor, especially if you have any underlying health issue such as heart disease or arthritis. In most cases, light weights training will actually improve your health, but it is good to be on the same page with your doctor just to be on the safe side.
When you are discussing creating a light weights routine with your doctor, set your goals. Do you want to lose weight, firm up flabby arms, or improve the stability of your joints because you have arthritis? Once you have set your goals, you can start select exercises that will help you meet those goals.
For example, if you hate the sight of your flabby arms, develop a program containing a range of exercises to tone and trim your biceps and triceps. Hate your spare tire? Focus on exercises that will give you a solid core and well-defined abs. Wish to improve your overall health and avoid the risk of tired muscles or injury from overuse? Rotate your exercises so you do 1 set for arms, legs, shoulders and core, and repeat this cycle for each work out session.
Don’t forget to vary your sessions as well in order to work every muscle and avoid the boredom that might creep in doing the same routine over and over again. The website BodyBuilding.com has a great deal of information for beginners, mostly in relation to heavier lifting which will not be suitable when you are just starting out and not something most older people will advance up to.
Having said that, they have some very useful worksheets you can use to develop your own program/s, keep track of nutrition, and much more. Enter the names of the exercises you wish to do, save, and print out. You will soon be able to create an entire library of interesting workouts that cater to your health goals.
Add a few minutes of dynamic stretching at the start of each session to warm up, and a few minutes of static stretching at the end to cool down to round out your program. Finally, plan your schedule to leave 24 to 48 hours between weights sessions so you do not overuse your muscles. A well rounded light weights program should soon have you looking and feeling great.
Best of all, you don’t need to join a gym or buy a lot of fancy equipment. Pick up a couple of cans or bottles from your kitchen cupboards and start working out today. You will soon start to see and feel the results.
If you would like to read more on light weight strength training for seniors, check out my book Senior Fitness – Balance and Strength Training Using Light Weights.
Using a light weight program may help you from becoming one of these statistics:
- • Falls in those 75 or older contribute to 70% of accidental deaths.
- • 1 in every 3 people over 65 will fall each year.
- • If you are 80 years or older, there is a 50% chance you will fall.
- • As a senior citizen, if you fall once, you are 200% to 300% more likely to fall again.
- • Roughly 9,500 deaths in older US citizens each year are associated with falling.
- • Even if you survive a fall as a senior citizen, you suffer a much greater functional decline in your ability to perform normal daily activities.
- • Over 250,000 older Americans experience a fractured hip each year; 1 in 4 seniors who fracture a hip die within 6 months as a result of that injury.