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Does strength training help your heart and lungs?


Strength Training Exercises for All Ages
Strength training, like the bicep curls these women are doing, just twice a week can improve your health and fitness.
Strength training, like the bicep curls these women are doing, just twice a week can improve your health and fitness.
Hemera/Thinkstock

You can adapt these strengthening exercises for all age groups. For the most seasoned weight lifters, add weights as needed or increase the number of repetitions. If that's still too easy, increase the number of sets. Simple poses like the ones below remove the need for a pricey weight room while getting your heart and lungs into perfect shape.

To improve arm strength, consider simple bicep curls. If you don't have arm weights, use cans or bottles from around the house. Place a weight in each hand. Your wrists should never bend so that the work comes from the biceps, not any other part of the arm. Repeat 10 to 15 times.

Switch the weight in the other direction and do tricep curls. Lean one elbow on a bench and at the same time lift the arm until it fully extends, working the back of the arm. Repeat 10 to 15 times.

Squats build strength in your large muscle groups including your thighs, buttocks and hips. Start with your feet about shoulder width apart. Extend your arms straight out in front of your body and ensure that your knees don't extend past your toes. Lower your buttocks down and hold. Repeat 10 to 15 times. You can hold free weights on top of your shoulders as you sink down.

Back extensions are ideal for reducing back pain. Start on your stomach. If you have a yoga mat, this is a good time to use it. Place a blanket or pillow underneath your stomach for support. Lift your left arm and right leg and hold for a count of four. Switch sides and lift your right arm and left leg. Repeat 10 to 15 times.

Take a one- to two-minute break between sets.

For lots more information about how strength training benefits your heart and lungs, check out the next page.