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Seniors – Don’t BE a Dumbbell, Buy Some
I like dumbbells! Oh, not the people, the exercise things.
I got my first set of free weights in 1960, when I was 15, as a Christmas present. If I knew then what I know now, I could have been a different Schwarzenegger. Despite the great training manual with Bruce Randall, Mr. The barbell set slowly disappeared under the bed and was sold to a friend a few years later.
In the army in the late 1960s, I had access to gyms with various forms of exercise equipment, but made little use of them. The barracks I lived in while stationed in Germany had a weight room in the basement, but I only trained down there twice in three years. I did get a lot of practice walking to various beer festivals and gasthausen in the area, but that’s another story!
After returning home to Pensacola, Florida in August 1970, I stumbled upon a copy of Aerobics, by Kenneth Cooper. That was the book that sparked my interest in exercise, and started me on a path to health and fitness that I’m still following today…almost four decades later.
The concepts and ideas presented in the book by Dr. Cooper described, caused me to do further research into health and fitness, and to start exercising regularly myself. I expanded beyond Dr. Cooper’s concentration on aerobics, however, and returned to the barbells of my youth.
I had learned that to be truly healthy and physically fit, you actually needed three types of exercise: cardiovascular training (aerobics), strength training (weightlifting or other progressive resistance training), and flexibility training.
Over time I bought a Bowflex (which I loved…it’s great!), and learned a bit about other exercise equipment like the Total Gym, and various universal type gyms, both from the professional styles or those commonly referred to as home gyms.
As more time passed, I aged, however, and moved several times. The Bowflex went away, and so did my dreams of one day being a professional bodybuilder. No regrets, it was just never really something I wanted to do bad enough to actually DO it. Just like learning the guitar.
However, as I got older, I began to have a dream that I WANT to pursue.
I wanted to advise senior citizens on health and fitness.
Since I was in my 60s at the time, it made sense for me to work out an exercise regimen (no pun intended) that worked for me and would also work well for other seniors. While no exercise plan is perfect for everyone, I have one that now works for me, and I have mentioned it in other articles elsewhere.
I built this exercise plan around dumbbells, and there are reasons for that.
1. Dumbbells are cheap and easy to get.
WalMart has some as do most pawn shops. Check the local Thrifty Nickel (American Classifieds) or equivalent. Ask friends. You can probably pick up a starter set for a few bucks. You can even start with cans of vegetables while saving up for your first set, but get adjustable dumbbells.
2. Adjustable dumbbells can be set at any level that suits the exercise.
Although this applies to everyone, I am writing specifically for seniors. Chances are you’re out of shape and in no hurry. Choose the lowest weight level to start your exercise program. Heck, start with just the bars and locks if you’re not sure. If you go through the motions, you will get exercise.
By the way, people sometimes wonder why they just can’t do pushups or chin-ups. Okay, as we used to say in the military, “drop and give me 10”, then go over to the chin-up bar and give me 10 of those, followed by 10 squats. If you can do that without a problem, and do it three days a week for the next six weeks, then forget the dumbbell idea. You’re in good enough shape…at least as far as muscle strength goes!
With dumbbells, you can start at a level that is right for you and gradually progress as your strength and endurance increase.
3. Dumbbells take up little space and are easily transportable.
4. Dumbbells provide a few exercise features that barbells and exercise machines often do not provide.
Dumbbells allow you to focus on specific muscles and muscle groups and require the body to stabilize itself (more exercise) when it moves through the exercise repetitions.
As I type this, my dumbbell set is sitting in a corner of the room a few feet away. I used it yesterday (Monday) and will use it on Wednesday and Thursday of this week, as I always do. On other days I make sure I get some of that cardio I mentioned by taking brisk walks, and I stretch after my walks and my weight training. By the way, warm up before exercise, but stretch when the body, and the muscles and joints, are warm and loose.
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