What Are the Health Benefits of Dumbbell Exercise?

Dumbbells are inexpensive, versatile and easy-to-use weights that let you create a variety of workouts to improve your health. Depending on the amount of weight you use, number of repetitions you do and pace at which you use them, dumbbells can help you improve cardiovascular fitness, burn calories, build muscle or increase muscular endurance for sports.

A pair of dumbbells. (Image: GuidoVrola/iStock/Getty Images)

Dumbbells

Dumbbells are small weights, shaped like a Roman letter I, resembling mini, single-piece barbells. You purchase dumbbells in different weights, starting with lightweight versions -- less than five pounds -- to use during aerobic workouts or while using a treadmill or exercise bike. Heavier dumbbells let you bodybuild.

Muscle Building

You can build muscle with dumbbells using heavier weights. Increasing muscle mass helps burn more calories throughout the day, since a pound of muscle burns more calories than a pound of fat. The Centers for Disease Control recommends combining resistance training that builds muscles with cardio exercises. You can bodybuild with dumbbells or just tone muscle.

Cardio Health

Using dumbbells to raise your heart rate helps you improve cardiovascular health. Starting at a slower pace, beginners to exercise can improve cardio stamina by using lighter weights for 30 minutes or longer. Raising the rate at which you use the dumbbells can move your heart rate into the aerobic zone, providing even more cardio benefit. Frequent aerobic exercise also helps improve blood cholesterol.

Weight Loss

Using dumbbells to create aerobic workouts helps you burn calories by raising your heart rate. Using aerobic exercise to lose weight decrease your risk of diseases and conditions such as diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, lower back pain and high blood pressure. This type of weight loss workout not only burns calories, but improves muscle strength, muscular endurance and heart health.

Muscular Endurance

If you participate in sports, you can use dumbbells to improve muscular endurance, or your ability to use your muscles over time, such as during a tennis match or volleyball game. You use less weight and perform more repetitions of each exercise when doing muscular endurance workouts than when doing bodybuilding exercises.

Bone Health

Weight-bearing exercises help to increase bone density, decreasing your risk of a fracture. Dumbbells are an ideal way to improve bone health for seniors, because you can use them sitting or lying down and choose weights that are easy to lift and manipulate.

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