Any activity that requires your muscles to work harder than they usually do is a strength exercise. People who enjoy outdoor recreation like hiking, climbing, mountain biking, and skiing know that building strength is necessary for an enjoyable outdoor experience. Building and maintaining strength becomes increasingly important with age to fend off naturally occurring muscle loss and help maintain balance to avoid potentially dangerous falls. Here's a brief list of ways to improve your strength to help you continue enjoying the great outdoors in Colorado. Remember, always check with your doctor before beginning any fitness program or making major dietary changes.
Every Activity Counts
Sometimes the best intentions to begin a strength-training program fizzle in the everyday bustle of other responsibilities. But even a few repetitions of strength-building activities can help develop and maintain muscles. Working in a few classic strength exercises like push-ups, squats, and planks for just a few minutes a day makes a difference over time. Keep a set of lower-weight dumbbells by your desk or your couch and sneak in a few curls in between tasks or during commercials.
You may already engage in activities in and around the house that you don't credit as strength builders, but they are. Digging in the garden, shoveling snow or mulch, washing floors, and just walking uphill all count; you're working your muscles by moving weight around. Cycling, dancing, and walking upstairs work your muscles, too.
In addition to lifting and moving weight with everyday chores and using dumbbells combined with squats and lunges, resistance exercises also build strength. Resistance bands allow a greater variety and freedom of motion while also imposing a greater workload on the muscles.
Hire a Trainer
If you're serious about building strength or you are working toward a specific strength-building goal, consider the benefits of hiring a personal trainer in the future. A qualified trainer can design a program specific to your needs, goals, and present fitness level. In addition to holding you accountable, trainers can offer exercise varieties, so you'll stick with it and won't get bored.
Work in Flexibility Exercises
Any strength-training program will allow for recovery time. According to Harvard Medical School's Health Publishing site, muscles need 48 hours to "re-knit," and they warn against working on the same muscles two days in a row. On your recovery days, you might go for aerobic activity and flexibility exercises to round out your fitness program. Muscles and joints are interdependent, and strong muscles need flexible joints to perform the kinds of movements needed for everyday activities as well as muscle-building exercises. Flexibility also may reduce the risk of injury from exercise.
Sleep Well and Watch Your Diet
In addition to allowing muscles time to recover, getting sufficient sleep is simply part of healthy living. According to that same Harvard Publishing article, adults should get seven to eight hours of sleep each night. And those muscles you're building need fuel, so find a healthy diet that suits your lifestyle and palate. Fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats like olive oil, lean meats, and plant-based proteins might combine to build your meal plans and help you improve your strength.