No matter what the Borg (from Star Trek: The Next Generation) say, resistance is not futile. Especially if the resistance involved is adding bands to your exercise routine. Bands are similar to giant rubber bands—for your body. Stretching them with various limbs lets you take on strength training without having to deal with dumbbells, kettle bells, sandbags or other bulky, scary (try dropping a dumbbell!) things.
Strength training is important for everyone. Older adults, especially, will find that strength training helps preserve their quality of life and independence. It helps improve balance, protect joints and reduce stress. Whether you are recovering from an injury or building muscle strength, you can use resistance bands at every level of strength. If you’ve never done strength training, you can gradually work your way up; the bands are usually color-coded from lightest to heaviest. Using resistance bands 2 to 3 times a week is a great way to start.
Improve your stretching. Stretching with resistance bands is a terrific way to help you improve your flexibility. You can also use them to improve joint mobility. Use bands during your warm-ups to engage to get ready for the exercise routine you have planned. If you have joint issues, though, check with your doctor or physical therapist first—overstretching can cause injury.
Increase your strength. We hear every day that “strength training is as important as cardio.” When stretched, resistance bands exert a certain amount of force on your muscles that builds strength. The same bands can be used for both upper and lower body training, saving time and expense.
Improve your bone health. Strong bones and muscles protect the body against injury, improving balance and coordination. Resistance training not only strengthens your muscles but also increases bone density, helping to fend off osteoporosis. This becomes especially important as we age because it can help prevent falls and broken bones.
Decrease your chance of injury. Exercise strengthens muscles, ligaments and tendons around your joints, allowing them to remain more flexible and helping to reduce the possibility of injury. When you do have an injury, bands have proven valuable for aiding recovery and are particularly useful when working with hip, knee and shoulder problems.
Cheap and easy are not words we usually want to hear when referring to exercise equipment. But resistance bands are inexpensive and easy to use—and to pack for travelling. Get started with a set of bands in a variety of resistance levels, tuck them in to a pocket in your carry-on and you’re ready to go. Not having a gym nearby is no longer a reason to skip your daily routine.