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TURN BACK THE HANDS OF TIME WITH RESISTANCE EXERCISES

How would you like to feel energized, strong and more self-confident? I can't imagine anyone answering, "No." Yet millions of people continue to bypass one of the most effective and efficient means we have to achieve this end -- resistance training.

More than any other factor, muscle loss is responsible for the diminished vitality we associate with old age, writes Miriam E. Nelson, Ph.D., associate chief of the Human Physiology Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Center on Aging at Tufts University. Dr. Nelson conducted a study of the effects of weight training on post-menopausal women and found that in addition to building bone and muscle, the participants became more active, were less prone to osteoporotic fractures and after one year "their bodies were 16 to 20 years more youthful."

Anybody can glean benefits from resistance training, and it's easy to start. You don't need fancy equipment or health club memberships. In fact, you can do the following exercise at home with an inexpensive resistance ball.

This exercise strengthens the triceps muscle along the back of your arms. (If you don't have a resistance ball, you can also perform this exercise sitting in a chair.)

Begin by sitting on the ball with your feet firmly on the floor, approximately hip width apart. Roll your hips slightly forward and place your hands to your sides and slightly behind your hips with your fingers pointing down/forward.

Press your palms down into the ball as you extend your elbows. Think of lifting your chest, squeezing your shoulder blades together and pressing your shoulders down. Allow your hips to lift slightly but don't lose contact with the ball.

Slowly lower and repeat the movement 10 to 15 times. Keep your spine lifted and supported throughout.

If you are using a chair, scoot forward and place your hands on the edge of the seat. For maximum benefits, add one to two more sets of 10 to 15 reps once you have mastered the exercise.

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