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Strength Training for Boomers

Anyone at any age can start building and regaining strength; find out how and get motivated.

It is important to "lengthen" or stretch muscles after you do a strengthening exercise. Stretching helps increase blood flow to your muscles, minimizes aches and pains and can help reduce feelings of tension or stress. Daily stretching, even for 10 minutes, will keep you limber and reduce your risk of pulling a muscle or getting some other injury.

Even though you're likely to see quick results, it is normal for these changes to slow down after several weeks of working out. Don't let this discourage you; stick with your program even though improvements are not as obvious. After several months of resistance training, most men and women will increase their muscular strength by 20 to 40 percent, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE).

Take it Slow

Many people hurt themselves strength training by moving too fast. Choose lighter weights to start—three- or five-pound—and build up gradually. Muscles need time to repair. Don't train the same muscle group two days in a row.

A rule of thumb: If you can't repeat eight weight exercises in a row, the weight is too heavy. Try a lighter weight. If you can lift a weight more than 15 times in a row, the weight is too light—get one slightly heavier. Don't increase the weight you lift by more than 10 percent at any time. Remember to warm up with slow movement, such as marching in place, and cool down (stretch) your muscles each time you work out.

A good video, book from the library, or a health club instructor can show you how to lift weights correctly if you haven't done it before. Controlling your movements and having proper posture and form will keep you from getting hurt. You can check your form by working out in front of a mirror.

You don't have to lose your strength or muscle tone just because you're getting older. As long as you continue working your muscles, they'll continue working for you, by keeping you strong, fit, and independent.

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