Hand weights add variety to your exercise and provide extra resistance for arm and shoulder muscles. Start out with light weights and increase weights slowly. According to the "UC Berkeley Wellness Newsletter," hand weights should never total more than 10 percent of your body weight. Start out by warming up your muscles before using the weights and finish by doing stretches without weights to cool down.
Check Your Cupboard
Use 15 oz. cans of vegetables or beans as weights. They are easy to grip and weigh nearly a pound, so they are good weights to start with. It costs nothing to use them as weights before opening them for dinner. Use them to make your arm and shoulder exercises more difficult.
Use 1 lb. packages of beans or dried peas to make heavier weights. Put two bags of beans in a sock, to make a 2-lb. weight. You can also use pennies or nickels from your jar of coins or fishing weights in socks to make 2 lb. weights. Fill the sock, tie the top tightly. Use as hand weights for upper body exercises.
Fill a half-gallon plastic milk or juice jugs with water to make 4 lb. weights. The handles on the milk jugs make them easy to hold while exercising your arms and shoulders. The 4-lb. weights are heavy, so limit the number of repetitions in each set, and put the milk containers down while you rest between sets.
Look At The Rest of Your House
Wrap thick paper-back books in scarves to make easy-to-hold weights.
Look around your house for heavy candlesticks or figurines to carry while you exercise.
Buy bags of small stones or glass beads meant to be put in clear vases. At the dollar store they cost as little as a dollar a bag. Use one bag in each hand as a weight, or fill socks with two or more bags. Look around your garden for smooth stones you can rinse and dry, and then put in socks. Weigh them on your scale to make sure the socks weigh the same.
Put a pound or two of fruit, such as oranges, in doubled plastic grocery bags. Use them to do arm raises, in front, to the side and to the back.