The benefits of strength exercises
Strength and flexibility exercises will help you increase muscle strength, maintain bone density, improve balance and reduce joint pain.
A strength exercise is any activity that makes your muscles work harder than usual. This increases your muscles’ strength, size, power and endurance. The activities involve using your body weight or working against a resistance.
Examples of muscle-stren-gthening activities include lifting weights, working with resistance bands,heavy gardening, such as digging and shovelling, climbing stairs, hill walking, cycling, dance,push-ups, sit-ups and squats and yoga.
What exercises are good for preventing falls?
Exercises that improve leg strength, balance and co-ordination can help people maintain and improve their muscle mass and avoid falls as they get older.
You could try ta chi, yoga, dance, walking up stairs, hiking or lifting weights.
How can I tell if I’m doing enough?
For an activity to be muscle-strengthening, it needs to work your muscles to the point where you may need a short rest before continuing. For example, if you’re lifting weights, you would have to put the weight down after doing a number of lifts before carrying on.
What are flexibility exercises?
Flexibility exercises are activities that improve the ability of a joint to maintain the movement necessary for carrying out daily tasks and physical activity.
What are the health benefits of strength and flexibility activities?
There is strong evidence of the health benefits of muscle-strengthening activities. These include maintaining the ability to perform everyday tasks and the reduction in bone and muscle loss associated with ageing. There is also a reduction in the number of falls.
Unlike aerobic and strength exercises, the specific health benefits of flexibility activities are unclear. However, health professionals believe that improving your flexibility can improve your posture, reduce aches and pains and lower your risk of injury. Good flexibility can also help you to continue carrying out everyday tasks.
How often should I do strength and flexibility exercises?
It’s a good idea to do muscle-strengthening activities that work all the major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms) on two or more days a week. No specific amount of time is recommended but a typical training session could take less than 20 minutes.
Exercises should be performed to the point at which it would be difficult to do another repetition without help. A repetition is one complete movement of an activity, like lifting a weight or doing one push-up or one sit-up. Try to do 8 to 12 repetitions for each activity, which counts as one set. Try to do at least two sets of muscle-strengthening activities, but to gain even more benefits, do three sets. Remember to start gradually and build up over a period of weeks.
There are no specific recommendations for how much time you should spend on flexibility exercises.