Strength training only gets more important as you get older. For most people, starting a kettlebell routine at 60 will be more challenging than it would be at 20, but the benefits of working with these weights will often outweigh the difficulties. Before beginning any weight-training routine, however, schedule a checkup with your doctor to get the all-clear.
Benefits of Strength Training
Working with weights such as kettlebells can slow down a number of conditions that tend to accompany aging. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, strength training can decrease pain from arthritis and help you manage diabetes. Even if you're in perfect health, working with weights can improve your mood, help you sleep better and lower your risk of heart disease. Using kettlebells may also improve your bone density, so if you fall, your bones won't fracture as easily.
Kettlebells may not be in your home gym, but these weights have been around since the 1700s. Each weight is shaped like a cannonball with an iron handle attached, and they come in a variety of weights. Unlike hand weights, however, you aren't likely to find kettlebells that weigh 2 or 5 pounds. They tend to come in heavier weights -- think 15, 25 and 50 pounds. Since they're tough to heft around, kettlebells will not only work your muscles, but you'll get your heart pounding. In a study done by the American Council on Exercise, participants burned an average of 272 calories in a 20-minute kettlebell session.
Starting a Routine
You may be able to do some biceps curls in your living room but don't attempt to work with kettlebells there as well. Head to a gym when you're first working with these weights, and find a trainer who has kettlebell experience. A trainer can help you choose the correct weight of kettlebell, show you proper form and teach you a variety of exercises. You may hold kettlebells while you do shoulder presses and lunges. Kettlebells are also often used in swing exercises, in which you'll lift the bell from between your feet, quickly swing your arms straight out so they're parallel to the floor and then lower the bell back to the floor.
Even a fit, 20-something athlete can become injured when working with heavy kettlebells. Always warm up before lifting. Five to 10 minutes of light cardio, like walking, and stretching will reduce your risk of pulling a muscle. You may find that wearing braces on your wrists and knees gives these areas extra support, but if you've had problems with your wrists, knees or back in the past, kettlebells might not be the right strength-training equipment for you. Give yourself at least a day's break in between kettlebell workouts and don't ignore any twinges of pain. Stop what you're doing and visit your doctor if you have any sudden or sharp pains.