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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

Dumbbells: the smart way to get healthy

Aug 30, 2022 12:01PM ● By Alicia Jones

If you think pumping iron is only for gym rats and bodybuilders, think again! As women age, muscle strength becomes more crucial than ever in order to maintain a healthy body. 

Without muscle strength, simple tasks such as getting up out of a chair, getting out of bed or lifting a bag of groceries can be difficult. Lack of muscle strength can also affect balance, which can lead to a higher risk of falling. 

If the thought of going to a gym or using fancy weight machines has you thinking twice about lifting weights, I have some great news for you. Getting in shape is easy just by using some affordable dumbbells in the comfort of your own home. 

Start with a set of small dumbbells, which you can find at Walmart, Target or any sporting goods store. Expect to pay about $1.50 per pound for a new set of weights. If you’re looking for a bargain, you can find dumbbells for sale on eBay or local Facebook Marketplace listings. 

Getting Started

We typically have one side of the body that is stronger than the other, and working with dumbbells shows us very quickly which side is which. If you’re just starting out, focus on working your weaker side first so you can really isolate those areas to build up your strength. 

Try to work with a gym partner to spot you when you begin. If you’re going it alone, start with exercises where you are upright so you can gauge whether or not you have the strength in your wrists and in stabilizer muscles to hold the dumbbells and do the exercises properly.

Form is Important

Keeping your body in correct alignment is extremely important when using dumbbells. Unlike weight machines, there isn’t anything to keep you working in a specific plane of motion. For example, when you're doing a squat, your back needs to be strong and your abs need to be contracted. You're holding the weight, gently putting it on the ground, and then rising up with a small bend in your knees, making sure that your hips move back and forward.

It’s so easy when holding dumbbells to want to bend your wrists, which creates a lot of strain and pressure on them. Make sure your wrists are always straight in order to hold the dumbbells properly.

Exercises to Avoid

This depends on your fitness level and what you’re capable of. Everybody is different. 

Many women over 50 tend to have shoulder issues due to declining estrogen levels, causing reduced blood flow to the shoulder area. Couple this with years of use from driving, typing and lifting babies and groceries, the shoulder sees a lot of wear and tear. 

Frozen shoulder is a condition that is quite common. Women with Type 2 diabetes have less blood flow so there's more possibility of frozen shoulder and issues with the acromioclavicular (AC) joint. 

In order to avoid strain on the shoulder, make sure that you're never reaching your arms over your head with a dumbbell. Instead, make sure your arms are coming up laterally. Make sure your shoulder is aligned, your thumb is facing up towards the sky and your arm never goes above shoulder level. This will make sure your shoulder joint stays in alignment so you won’t hurt yourself while doing these exercises. Consider using a lighter weight when doing shoulder exercises to minimize the possibility of strain. 

How Many Times Per Week?

You can build a stronger, healthier body with only two or three weight training sessions per week, working out only 5-10 minutes per session. I’ve made it even easier for you to get started with these free weekly routines so you can make dumbbells a smart and healthy addition to your lifestyle. Sign up at

Not sure what size of weights to start with?

Take the quiz at

Alicia Jones helps transform the health and the lives of women over 50 through her fitness and weight loss strategies. Discover more at

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