As you age, your body naturally loses muscle mass, a process called sarcopenia. Doing strength exercises slows down that process, which replaces lost muscle with fat tissue.
What’s more: Stressing your muscles regularly with resistance exercise has been shown in studies to be an effective way to control high blood sugar, prevent type 2 diabetes and help you burn more calories. You don’t need a gym and a lot of equipment to get these benefits. Start with these simple body weight exercises.
Do them twice a week for starters, then add more days and rounds as you progress. Important: Always begin with a warm-up — for example, marching in place, lifting your knees high and swinging your arms for a couple of minutes to elevate your heart rate.
Do eight to 12 repetitions of each of the exercises that follow. Rest for 30 seconds after each exercise. Then go on to the next exercise on the list. As you get stronger and more aerobically fit, add more exercises and sets to the circuit.
Spread your feet shoulder-width apart with toes pointed slightly outward. Raise both arms above your head. Bend your knees and push your butt back as if sitting in a chair. Lower your body until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Pause a second, and straighten your legs to stand.
Get into a pushup position, but instead of placing your hands on the floor, place them on a stair-step or low bench. Keep your back straight. Your arms should be extended straight. Brace your abs. Bend your elbows to lower yourself until your chest is an inch off the step. Push yourself up.
Hip Raise with Press-out
Lie face-up on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place your arms out to your sides at 45-degree angles, your palms facing up. Place a 20-inch exercise band around your legs above your knees, and spread your knees slightly against the resistance. Raise your hips so your body forms a straight line. Pause for five seconds in the up position, and then lower your body to the starting position.
Mountain Climber Finisher
Get into the up-pushup position with your hands directly under your shoulders and arms straight. Rapidly bend and straighten each leg one at a time in alternating fashion. It’s like running in place with your hands on the ground. Try bringing your knees to your chest with each pump of your legs. Do these as fast as possible for a full 20 seconds. Then rest and repeat.
Illustrations by Robert Prince.