Making your muscles stronger is an important part of overall health. When your muscles are
strong, you can carry heavy grocery bags more easily, pick up children without
feeling as much strain, or do more downhill ski runs before you
get too tired and have to stop.
When you do activities to make your muscles stronger, you:
- Make your bones stronger.
- Increase your overall stability and balance.
- Lower your blood sugar.
- Lower your body fat.
- Lower your stress.
- Increase the number of calories you burn.
- Help you
avoid body aches and tiredness.
Experts advise people to do exercises to strengthen muscles at least 2 times a week. Be sure to work the major muscle groups: legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms. Examples include lifting weights and resistance training.
get stronger when they are used regularly, but especially when
they have to work against something. This is called "resistance."
For example, you use your arm muscles when
you bend your arm at the elbow. But when you do the same movement with
something heavy in your hand, your arm muscles are working against more
"Resistance training" means making your muscles stronger by
exercising with things like
rubber tubing . It also includes
certain exercises , like push-ups, that use your own body weight as
For best results, use a resistance
that makes your muscles tired after 8 to 12 repetitions of each exercise.
To avoid injury, start with light weights and few repetitions. You can increase the weight and the repetitions as you get stronger. To learn more, see Preventing Injury and Illness.
One part of muscle fitness is strengthening
the muscles of your
trunk. This is called
strong core is good for everyone, from older people to top professional
athletes. It can help you have better posture and balance, and help
protect you from injury.
- Fitness: Increasing Core Stability
Stretching for flexibility
Flexibility means being able to move your
joints and muscles through their full range of motion.
As you become more flexible, you will find it easier to reach
things on high shelves, to look under a bed, or perhaps to tie your shoes. You
will also have a better sense of balance and coordination.
To stay flexible,
stretch all your major groups of muscles. These
include the muscles of your arms, your back,
your hips, the front and back of your
thighs, and your calves.
- Warm up your muscles for 5 to 10 minutes before you stretch them by doing aerobic activity such as walking or jogging. This will help increase blood flow to your working muscles.
- Try to hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds.
- Add stretches to your day. Do some stretches first thing in the morning, take a stretch
break instead of a coffee break, or stretch in the office for a few minutes.
- Get involved in activities that include
stretching, such as dance, martial arts (aikido or karate), tai chi, or