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Office Exercises: Shoulders and Neck

Office Exercises: Shoulders and Neck

National Institute on Aging

About Strength Exercises

Even very small changes in muscle size can make a big difference in strength, especially in people who already have lost a lot of muscle. An increase in muscle that’s not even visible to the eye can be all it takes to improve your ability to do things like get up from a chair or climb stairs.

Your muscles are active even when you are sleeping. Their cells are still doing the routine activities they need to do to stay alive. This work is called metabolism, and it uses up calories. That can help keep your weight in check, even when you are asleep!

To do most of the following strength exercises, you need to lift or push weights, and you need to keep gradually increasing the amount of weight you use. You can use the hand and ankle weights sold in sporting-goods stores, or you can use things like emptied milk jugs filled with sand or water, or socks filled with beans and tied shut at the ends.

There are many alternatives to the exercises shown here. For example, you can buy a resistance band (it looks like a giant rubber band, and stretching it helps build muscle) at a sporting-goods store for under $10 to do other types of strength exercises. Or you can use the special strength-training equipment at a fitness center.

How Much, How Often

Do strength exercises for all of your major muscle groups at least twice a week. Don’t do strength exercises of the same muscle group on any 2 days in a row.

Depending on your condition, you might need to start out using as little as 1 or 2 pounds of weight, or no weight at all. The tissues that bind the structures of your body together need to adapt to strength exercises.

Use a minimum of weight the first week, then gradually build up the weight. Starting out with weights that are too heavy can cause injuries.

At the same time, remember that you have to gradually add a challenging amount of weight in order to benefit from strength exercises. If you don’t challenge your muscles, you won’t benefit from strength exercises. (The “Progressing” section below will tell you how.)

When doing a strength exercise, do 8 to 15 repetitions in a row. Wait a minute, then do another set of 8 to 15 repetitions in a row of the same exercise. (Tip: While you are waiting, you might want to stretch the muscle you just worked or do a different strength exercise that uses a different set of muscles).

Take 3 seconds to lift or push a weight into place; hold the position for 1 second, and take another 3 seconds to lower the weight. Don’t let the weight drop; lowering it slowly is very important.

It should feel somewhere between hard and very hard (15 to 17 on the Borg scale) for you to lift or push the weight. It should not feel very, very hard. If you can’t lift or push a weight 8 times in a row, it’s too heavy for you. Reduce the amount of weight. If you can lift a weight more than 15 times in a row, it’s too light for you. Increase the amount of weight.

Stretch after strength exercises, when your muscles are warmed up. If you stretch before strength exercises, be sure to warm up your muscles first (through light walking and arm pumping, for example).

What You’ll Need:

- Chair

- Two equal weights. If you don’t have hand-held weights, try water bottles, coke cans, soup cans, books, etc.

ARM RAISES

Strengthens shoulder muscles. Sit in a chair, with your back straight. Your feet should be flat on the floor, spaced apart so that they are even with your shoulders. Hold hand weights straight down at your sides, with your palms facing inward. Take 3 seconds to lift your arms straight out, sideways, until they are parallel to the ground. Hold the position for 1 second. Take 3 seconds to lower your arms so that they are straight down by your sides again. Pause. Repeat 8 to 15 times. Rest; do another set of 8 to 15 repetitions.

Summary:

1. Sit in chair.

2. Feet flat on floor; keep feet even with shoulders.

3. Arms straight down at sides, palms inward.

4. Raise both arms to side, shoulder height.

5. Hold position.

6. Slowly lower arms to sides.

Shoulder Flexion

Strengthens shoulder muscles. Sit in a chair, with your back straight. Your feet should be flat on the floor, spaced apart so that they are even with your shoulders. Hold hand weights straight down at your sides, with your palms facing inward. Take 3 seconds to lift your arms in front of you, keeping them straight and rotating them so that your palms are facing upward, until your arms are parallel to the ground. Hold the position for 1 second. Take 3 seconds to lower your arms so that they are straight down by your sides again. Pause. Repeat 8 to 15 times. Rest; do another set of 8 to 15 repetitions.

Summary:

1. Sit in chair.

2. Feet flat on floor; keep feet even with shoulders.

3. Arms straight down at sides, palms inward.

4. Raise both arms in front of you (keep them straight and rotate so palms face upward) to shoulder height.

5. Hold position.

6. Slowly lower arms to sides.


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