Written by John Ferrari
We all know that to build strength you’ve got to hit the weight room,
right? Maybe not. An exercise program that includes weight lifting is
ideal, but according to Yolande Mavity, lead physical therapist for Torrance
Memorial Medical Center’s outpatient rehabilitation department,
there are times when weight lifting isn’t the best choice. For example,
it should be avoided when it may exacerbate arthritis or joint pain.
“You can strengthen your muscles using gravity and your own body
weight,” she says. One of her favorite exercises is the Chair Rise:
Stand up and sit down as many times as you can using just your core and
legs, keeping your feet on the floor and pausing just long enough between
rises to avoid relying on your own momentum.
Another favorite is Single-Leg or Double-Leg Heel Raises to strengthen
calf muscles: Standing, with your feet flat on the floor, press your toes
down, lifting your heels off the ground. Hold that for 3 to 5 seconds
before slowly lowering your heels.
For abdominal and core strength, Mavity suggests Planks, which begin with
your body in pushup position, hands or forearms on the floor to support
your upper body weight, or Knee Planks, with knees and lower legs on the
floor. Hold the position for 10 to 30 seconds, maintaining a straight
line from head to tailbone.
There are dozens of other strength-building exercises. No matter what you
try, Mavity says, “Always consult your doctor before starting an
exercise program, and ease into the program. Exercises should never be
painful, and you should be watchful that you’re using proper body
With gravity and your body, you can be your own weight room! •