As you age, your body naturally loses muscle mass. Strength training with free weights, or dumbbells, allows you to build up that lost muscle and stay healthy and strong. Strength exercises can increase coordination and mobility, help maintain bone density and even help prevent or improve some age-related health conditions. As you build muscle, you'll notice that everyday tasks feel simpler and your overall health will benefit. Add free-weight exercises to your daily routine for a healthier, more active life.
Always consult your doctor before you begin any exercise program. If you are healthy enough for exercise, perform free-weight exercises two or more days per week, on nonconsecutive days. Begin each workout with a short warm-up, such as a brisk walk around the block or a five-minute ride on a stationary bike. As your muscle strength grows, gradually increase the amount of weight you use. Start with lighter weights, and perform more repetitions of each exercise. As this becomes easier, choose heavier weights and perform fewer repetitions.
Upper Body: Biceps Curl
Strengthen the biceps and triceps muscles of your upper arms with this basic exercise. Begin standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold one weight in each hand with your arms straight down and palms facing upward. Slowly bend both elbows and lift the weights toward your chest. Pause for one second and return to starting position. Repeat 10 to 15 times, then rest. Repeat another 10 to 15 times. When these become less challenging, progress to heavier weights and perform five to 10 repetitions.
Upper Body: Lateral Arm Raise
Perform this shoulder-strengthening exercise while standing or seated in a chair without arms. Keep your feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart. Hold one weight in each hand with your arms at your sides and your palms facing down. Slowly raise both arms to the side, lifting to shoulder height. Pause, then lower to the starting position. Keep your neck and shoulders relaxed and your arms as straight as possible during this exercise. Repeat 10 to 15 times, then rest. Repeat another 10 to 15 times.
Lower Body: Dumbbell Squat
Tone the large muscle groups in your legs, including the quadriceps and hamstrings, as well as the hips, buttocks and core. Begin standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold one weight in each hand, with your arms straight down at your sides. Squat, allowing your knees to bend and your hips to move back, as if you are sitting into a chair. Pause for a few seconds, then slowly stand up to starting position. Repeat 10 to 15 times, then rest. Repeat another 10 to 15 times.