Many people tend to get less active as they get older which is exactly the opposite of what experts recommend. As your body ages you need to be taking extra care of it by working out sensibly and keeping it in tip-top form. This will not only keep you looking and feeling younger but it will help to prevent all kinds of diseases, aches and pains.
Do you want to be hunched over with a bad back and a walking stick aged 70? No, we don’t either! We’ve compiled a list of the 8 exercises that are specifically designed for over 40s that will have you skipping into old age stronger and fitter than you were in your 20s.
It’s not technically and ‘exercise’ but it is one of the most important part of any workout routine! Without adequate sleep your body can’t repair the muscles that you’ve been working out at the gym, which means that all your hard work is for nothing. Sleep deprivation leads to grouchiness and lethargy, which means lack of motivation to even get down to the gym in the first place. What’s more, studies have shown that individuals that don’t get enough sleep are more likely to look for energy from extra calories. So make sure you are getting enough shut eye to be on form and focused every day.
2. T-TO-Y ARM RAISES
This is a simple but incredibly effective exercise that you can add to your routine. Hold your arms out to the side in a T shape and raise them to the count of three up to a Y shape, then lower back down. If you find this too easy pick up some weights – anything will do, even a can of beans or a water bottle. Try increasing the weight as the exercise becomes easier. This nifty exercise works your back, shoulders and arms which are key areas of concern as you get older. Studies have shown that poor posture disproportionately affects the older generation and this is due in large part to muscle weakness in the upper back and shoulders.
3. WALKING BACKWARDS
This one takes a bit of getting used to but it will work wonders for your core strength and balance. We’re not asking you to walk miles and miles backwards but incorporating 10 backwards steps every few minutes when you are out walking will make a big difference in the long term. Not only is it good for your balance and coordination but it works the two major muscles in your calves and works on the tendons in your lower leg.
4. WALKING (FORWARDS!)
Walking is one of the great simple (and free) pleasures of life, and luckily it’s a great way to lose weight and stay fit. In today’s climate of super faced paced living people feel like they don’t have time to go for a walk and enjoy the process of travelling through their environment.
For retirees though, that’s not usually an issue. Walking just 40 minutes at a comfortable pace will burn 160 calories and walking 3 miles will burn just as many as running the same distance. So you don’t need to be a Speedy Gonzales to reap the benefits of this exercise!
5. ONE LEGGED SQUAT
One legged squats require good balance and stability, particularly in the core, hip and shoulder. So they are a great exercise for older people that want to maintain good overall form and are looking for an exercise that they can build up to.
If you can’t squat one-legged already, you can easily start with a simple sumo squat: with your feet hip-width apart slowly bend the knees until you thighs are at a 90 degree angle with the floor. Make sure your knee doesn’t come past your toes and that you keep a nice strong back and shoulder with your core engaged. From here you can build up the strength to do a one legged squat – keep one leg grounded while the other in extended out in front of you.
6. ROWING MACHINE
As you age, a key focus point should always be your shoulder joints and upper back. If you keep these strong then you’ll be able to maintain a good posture and you’ll avoid the painful back problems that often plague older people.
Rowing machines in gyms are a great way to work your muscles and get a cardio workout at the same time, so you’ll be burning calories, building strength and getting fitter all in one go. If you don’t have a gym membership then why not get outdoors and try out the real thing? Regular outdoor activities have been shown to reduce stress levels and lower blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart-related illnesses.
7. SINGLE LEG DEADLIFT
Single leg deadlifts work much like the single legged squat in that they focus on your balance, coordination and stability. It’s also a great exercise for that key area the back and shoulders.
Choose a weight that fits your ability – you should be able to do three sets of 8-12 reps, with the last few reps being a struggle (without compromising form!). Hold your weights in each hand with your arms by your sides. Now, standing with feet hip-width apart, raise one leg off the ground behind you, then lower your upper body by bending at the hip and keeping a flat back.
Keeping your mind healthy is just as important as keeping your body healthy, and yoga is here to help you do both. It’s a great low-impact exercise that will gradually build strength, balance and stability. The meditative side of yoga helps to lower stress by focusing on breathing in time with movement. Yoga classes are also a great way to meet knew friends and many centres run classes catering specifically for the older yogi.