Fit & Healthy Over Fifty

More than ever before, people of all demographics particularly those over fifty, are getting into the habit of staying in shape and maintaining decent levels of physical fitness. Studies have shown that exercise is something we can all do for ourselves to help us live longer and enjoy healthier lives, no matter the age.

It is always important to stay consistent and committed when beginning an exercise programme and the results will eventually pay off. As they say, you get what you put in.

Exercise is great for both the body and the mind and can help a great deal with stress-management and levels of alertness, which is highly beneficial in this fast-paced society we continue to live in. It has been known to improve quality of sleep so that we fall asleep quicker and wake up less frequently throughout the night to truly get the rest we need.

It’s no secret that it’s hard to find time to dedicate to exercise when our lives can be so busy and demanding, yet it plays such a crucial role in keeping us all stronger and healthier for longer.

For those who may feel like they’re constantly against the clock, a home workout could be just what the doctor ordered, beginning with as little as 10 minutes a day, two or three times a week and slowly increasing the duration as you become more comfortable with infusing it into your weekly routine.

You don’t necessarily need a big, fancy gym or resistance machines in order to have a great workout. There are countless exercises that require nothing more than our own bodyweight and a little bit of creativity. Resistance bands or “therabands” are great and simple fitness tools which can effectively strengthen the entire body and you can pick them up in most sports stores. The way they work is through constant tension supplied by your own muscles to provide resistance, unlike free-weights which rely on gravity.

Here are a few exercises you can try at home.

Try performing 2 sets of 10 repetitions to begin with.

 Sit-To-Stand

This one is simple but effective. Simply sit in a chair with your feet about shoulder-width apart and stand up without using your hands. Focus on pushing your weight evenly through the heels and contract your glutes as you come up. This exercise is excellent for improving lower limb functional strength and we can increase the difficulty by holding weights in each hand or even performing the exercise with one leg (for those looking for an advanced challenge). If dumbells aren’t readily available, you can be creative and use things found around the house such as water bottles or unopened cans.

Push-up

Tried-and-true, we’ve all done this exercise at some stage in our lives and the benefits are tremendous when it comes to increasing our functional strength through full-body activation. As you perform this movement, all the major muscle groups (biceps, triceps, anterior deltoids, core, lower body muscles) are activated and therefore can be considered a full-body workout alone. We can modify this exercise by performing the movement on the knees or against a wall if upper limb strength has been compromised by injury or general de-conditioning.

Standing Row With A Resistance Band

For this exercise, tie a resistance band to something stable like the leg of a table or a pole. Grab both ends of the resistance band and pull back keeping your forearms parallel to the ground and your thumbs facing up. Be sure to keep your shoulders back and down and try to open-up the chest as you pull.

This exercise is great for strengthening the muscles that draw the shoulder blades back and is beneficial for those with lower back pain. It is beneficial for those who have a job-role that requires spending a lot of time sitting in front of a computer and as a result have a compromised posture and possible muscular imbalances. This exercise may also be performed in a seated position on a chair or a swiss ball to enable more engagement of the core.

Single-Leg Balance

Not only is it simple to do but the benefits that come from practicing are significant and will give you an idea about how good your balance is. The benefits of unilateral exercises such as this one includes isolating and correcting muscle imbalances, utilizing the core muscles and injury and falls prevention.

Exercises with a focus on balance are great for improving proprioception, which is described as the ability to sense one’s body position in space. Start off with trying to balance on one leg for 20 seconds and increase duration as you get more comfortable.

Home workouts are a great way for time-poor individuals to stay in shape and provides positive benefits including being able to do it in whatever setting you desire, whether that’s in the living room in front of the TV, outside in the sun or in the comfort of your bedroom. It’s also affordable and requires little to no equipment to provide both physical and psychological boosts to your body.

 

Chris Chen (BSc – Exercise Physiology)

Senior Accredited Exercise Physiologist

 

References:

Anatomy of Exercise for 50+: A Trainer’s Guide to Staying Fit Over Fifty (Book by Hollis Liebman)

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4889622/

https://journals.lww.com/nsca-scj/Fulltext/2010/04000/Bodyweight_Training__A_Return_To_Basics.5.aspx

https://journals.lww.com/acsm-healthfitness/Fulltext/2013/05000/STRESS_RELIEF__The_Role_of_Exercise_in_Stress.6.aspx

https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Abstract/2010/01001/Effect_Of_Elastic_Band_Resistance_Training_During.29.aspx