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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%.


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


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.


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


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:


  • 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.


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


"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."


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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