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Healthy and fit on the go: resistance bands

Resistance Bands


Resistance bands are an inexpensive, effective tool for strengthening the major muscle groups of the upper and lower body as well as the core of abdomen and lower back.

The bands:

Use a four or five foot length of medium-resistance latex or other stretch band material. Tie a small loop on each end to slip onto your hand, if desired.


Body position:

In a sturdy chair without wheels, sit tall with thighs parallel to the floor, back away from the chair back, and keep abdominal muscles tight.


Exercises:

Use slow, controlled movements throughout the range of motion in each exercise – resist the band’s elasticity. Count to 3 with each movement and perform up to 12 of each exercise.


Chest:

Wrap the ends of the band around each hand, raise bent elbows out to the sides, palms down. Straighten arms to the count of 3, resist and count to 3 as you return to the starting position.


Upper back:

Wrap ends of band around each hand, raise bent elbows out to the sides, palms down. Lay your chest on your knees, step on the center of the band. Slowly squeeze your elbows together and return to the starting position.


Shoulders:

Sit up straight. Keeping the band under your feet, lock your wrists. Raise and lower your straight arms from the corners of the chair to a “V” at shoulder level. Keep your back straight and abs tight.

Muscle Strengthening Exercises

Biceps:

With the band under your feet, squeeze your elbows to your ribs, arms bent, palms up. Curl your hands up to your shoulders and lower slowly.

Triceps:

Step on one end of the band. Hold the other end of the band behind your head with both hands, squeeze your head with your elbows and keep your stomach muscles tight to protect your back.

Lower back:

Wrap the ends of the band around your hands with the middle of the band under your feet. Lay your chest on your knees, squeeze your ribs with your elbows, and lock your arms in the bent elbow position. Using your waist as the hinge, slowly raise your body to a seated position. Lower slowly and repeat. Keep your abdominal muscles tight throughout the range of motion to protect your back.


Thighs:

Wrap the ends of the band around your hands with the middle of the band under your right foot. Sitting upright, arms resting at your sides, knees pointed forward. Lift your leg off the chair and slowly raise and lower your right foot to the straight leg position. Keep your leg off the chair and push your heel down first as you lower your foot. Switch sides and repeat with your left leg.

Hips:

Set left foot on one end of the band. Wrap the other end around your right foot and hold the end of the band in your right hand. Sit upright, arms resting at sides, knees pointed forward. Straighten your right leg and slowly push your whole leg out to the side. Slowly return to the front and repeat 10 times. Switch sides.

Calves:

Wrap one end of the band around each hand. Put your right foot in the center of the band, hold your leg straight out to the front, foot flexed (toes pointed up). Slowly point your toe away from you then pull your toes up and push your heel forward so your toes point to the ceiling. Repeat 10 times and switch legs.

View and download a fact sheet with pictures of these exercises. 

Reviewed in 2019

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