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Want another reason to become friends with some dumbbells? A Tufts University study, published in the August 1994 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that people ages 56 to 80 who weight-trained three times a week increased their resting metabolic rate by 7%. The participants gained three pounds of muscle and lost four pounds of fat while increasing their daily caloric intake by 15%.

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"Strength training should be part of every weight loss program," Westcott says.

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The American Heart Association recommends performing an aerobic workout six days a week for 30 minutes and two to three weight training sessions a week. But if you're like most Americans, you don't exercise because you think you don't have time to press some pounds. Not true, say Westcott and others in the field.

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"Give me 10 to 15 minutes a day, two days a week and you will see a difference," Westcott promises.

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If you want to start a weight workout, Westcott suggests that you first talk to your doctor and have a complete physical. Then, when you're ready, you can begin with these basic exercises:

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  • A chest press or another pushing exercise.
  • A rowing exercise or another type of pulling exercise.
  • A major leg muscle exercise like a squat or leg press.
  • A core body exercise for the midsection, like sit-ups or crunches.

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Westcott suggests weight training every other day, with an aerobic workout on the off days.

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"In most studies, if we are doing 15 to 20 minutes of strength training, we do 15 to 20 minutes of aerobics," he says. "You don't have to do a lot to get fairly significant changes."

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Bob Calandra is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in several magazines including People and Life. He lives in Glenside, Pa.

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