Benefits of Muscle-Strengthening Activities
No matter your age, regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. To get the health benefits of physical activity, not only do you need to do aerobic activities that make you breathe harder and your heart beat faster, but you also need to do strengthening activities to make your muscles stronger.
As people age, they lose muscle. Muscle-strengthening activities can build muscle tissue and help slow the rate of age-related muscle loss. In addition, strengthening activities can maintain the strength of your bones and improve your balance, coordination, and mobility. Older adults who participate in moderate-intensity muscle-strengthening and balance activities are less likely to have falls.
When to Check with Your Doctor
Doing an activity that requires moderate effort is safe for most people, regardless of age. However, if you have a health condition such as heart disease, arthritis, or diabetes be sure to talk with your doctor about the types and amounts of physical activity that are right for you.
Tips for Getting Started
Choose activities that work all seven major muscle groups of your body (legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders, and arms), such as lifting weights, working with resistance bands, doing exercises that use your body weight for resistance (such as push-ups and sit-ups), or yoga.
- Try to do 8-12 repetitions per strengthening activity. A repetition is one complete movement of an activity, like lifting a weight or doing one sit-up. To develop muscle strength and endurance, the number of strengthening activities needs to be done to the point where it’s hard for you to do another repetition.
- Strive to increase the weight that you currently lift. Muscles are strengthened by progressively increasing the weight you lift over time. When you can lift the weight 8-12 times easily, it may be time to increase the amount of weight at your next session.
Staying Safe and Avoiding Injury
Muscle strengthening is generally safe for everyone. Here are some things you can do to stay safe while strengthening your muscles:
- If you haven’t been active in a while, start slowly and build up.
- Choose muscle-strengthening activities that are appropriate for your fitness level.
- Maintain good posture when performing all activities.
- When picking weights up from the floor (or putting them down), use your legs—not your back.
Building People Skills
People skills, also known as Emotional Intelligence, can be thought of as a set of learned skills that help us to get along well with others. Whether you are dealing with family, friends or co-workers, here are some ways to practice good people skills:
Build Others’ Self-Esteem
- Pay attention to what is going on in people’s lives, acknowledge milestones and express concern.
- Make eye contact, use their name when speaking to them.
- Compliment their work, express your appreciation.
- Make people feel welcome when they come to your home or workplace.
- Encourage people to explore their talents and interests.
- Share people’s excitement for their accomplishments.
Actively Listen and Respond Productively
- Restate in your own words what the other person has said—it is a check on whether your understanding is correct and a communication that you are interested in what was said.
- Name the feeling the other person is conveying: “Sounds like you are annoyed with me”, “You seem really stumped about how to solve this problem.”
- Demonstrate that you intend to hear and understand another’s point of view even though you may disagree with it.
Communicate Assertively and Constructively
- Constructive communication is a learned skill and includes both what you say and how you say it.
- Speaking assertively is expressing feelings and opinions in an honest, respectful and direct way while, at the same time, acknowledging the other party’s interests and perspective.
Encourage People to Cooperate with Each Other
- Whether it is your family or your work group, treat everyone with respect.
- Do not talk about people behind their backs.
- Ask for others’ ideas and participation.
- Follow-up on suggestions and requests (even if you are unable to carry them out).
- Check for understanding when you make an announcement. Do not assume everyone is onboard with you and grasps what you are saying.
- When assigning tasks, make sure people have a clear understanding of the project and a plan to complete it.
- Recognize cooperative behavior and compliment it.
Show Empathy for Others
- Recognize the emotions of others; put yourself in their shoes.
- Be aware of your own emotions and how they affect your actions.
- Make an effort to connect with others even though doing so requires more of your energy.