A regular, moderate strength training program can bring these benefits:
- Stronger muscles, which in turn mean stronger bones, thus reducing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.
- An improvement in blood cholesterol levels. Lifting weights may also help control blood pressure and blood sugar.
- Less risk of injury during other activities. It may help correct muscle weakness and imbalances and joint instability.
- Improved self-esteem and self-confidence. Added muscle and bone strength will benefit you in your daily activities, including other exercises and sports.
- May help with weight control. Even if you don’t lose weight, you’ll become trimmer and fitter.
- Reduced arthritis pain and lower-back pain. (Note: if you have osteoarthritis, you may need special advice about a strength-training program.)
You need little space and only a few inexpensive pieces of equipment. Any store with a sporting-goods section should have a selection of dumbbells. Women should start with a pair of 2- or 3-pound weights, men with 5- or 10-pound weights. Light weights that can be strapped to your feet or ankles are convenient, too. You can buy adjustable dumbbells, to which you can add or remove metal disks.
Some strength-training routines (push-ups and sit-ups) require no equipment. You can also use exercise bands. If you don’t want to buy anything, you can even use heavy objects from the pantry, such as soup cans.