Over 50’s Fitness by Glen Barnett – 6 Areas of Fitness for an Ageing Populating

Part A

Below are 3 areas in your fitness that need attention paid to them as you age. They are strong legs, strong back and good balance.  Let’s take a look at each one and what you can do to get them.

According to traditional Chinese medical wisdom you are only as old as your legs. It is believed that if you strengthen your legs you can slow down the effects of aging and stop certain health problems because of the stimulation of important energy meridians in your legs which are linked to your spleen, liver and kidneys.

Strong and flexible legs provide better support for your whole body, better balance and better circulation. Better circulation provides balanced energy flow.  To get strong  legs keep up your regular walking and find some hills to stride up.  Then add squats into your day by repeatedly sitting down and standing up from a straight back chair with tummy tucked in and feet flat.

With strong legs comes improved balance.  Being able to stand on one leg with your eyes closed for up to 1 minute is a indicator of good balance.  While you’re washing the dishes or standing in line at the check out practise lifting one leg slightly off the ground (keep your eyes open In this case).  It helps of course if you are not wearing heels as they tend to throw your posture out of alignment and your balance off. Maintaining good balance as you get older can be a great asset in preventing falls. Try also walking heel to toe along a straight line – with your eyes closed will make it harder!

Keeping your back strong will help maintain an upright posture therefore opening your chest and keeping those airways functioning efficiently.  A strong back will also help you with your general upper body strength and help you avoid the stooped over stance that many seniors tend to succumb to.

Lay on face down on the ground or even on your bed.  Stretch your arms out in front of you, and then slowly lift one leg off the ground, then the other. Then lift one arm off the ground then the other.  The whole time keep your face pointing downward so as not to strain your neck.  As you lift breath outward rather than hold your breath.  When you feel this is easy then try lifting opposite arm and leg at the same time, then switch to the other side.  Keep the movements slow and smooth and even add a slight hold at the top of each movement as your strength improves.

Part B

Last week I wrote about maintaining strength in your legs and back plus maintaining a good sense of balance as you age this week we will look at 3 more areas that can weaken as we age so therefore we need to pay more attention to them.  These are biceps and triceps which are your upper arm muscles and strong trapezius muscles which you will find in your upper back and neck area.  Keeping these muscles strong could someday make the difference in doing basic tasks such as carrying groceries or your grandchildren.  If this group of muscles becomes weaker they are more prone to create neck problems.

You can certainly grab a dumbbell or something similar and do some bicep curls but there is a simpler and more productive way to work these muscles more effectively.

Pushups are one of the best all round upper body exercises.  Now don’t think I expect you to get down on the ground and give me 20!  You can do pushups against the wall bearing in mind the further your feet are away from the wall the harder the push up will be.

Position your feet about hip distance apart, then place your hands on the wall level with your chest and wider than the width of your shoulders. If this is uncomfortable move your hands further apart or closer together   Keep your body long, so don’t sag in the middle, and then lower yourself towards the wall by bending your elbows and leading with your chest.  From there carefully and gradually push yourself away from the wall again.  Try, if you can, to squeeze the muscles between your shoulder blades as you do this exercise and pull your tummy muscles in.  This will provide you with more stability and power.

Try doing repetitions of 10 maybe 3 times during your day.  When you feel this is easy, slow them down or add a little pause when you get close to the wall before pushing away again.  Then you can progress to trying some on your hands and knees on a bench or later the floor.

Next exercise to strengthen your shoulders and neck area are shoulder shrugs.  During winter we tend to lift our shoulders in an attempt to get warmer.  We also lift this area when we are angry or arguing with someone.  These movements create tension in your neck and upper body rather than strength.  To strengthen this area, simply hold something that weighs a couple of kgs in each hand. Let your arms hang down by your sides then lift your shoulder upwards to your ears in a shrugging action. Repeat, again doing repetitions of 10 maybe 3 times during your day.

Of course if you have shoulder problems or experience pain in these areas during these exercises then you should seek medical guidance.  A good mantra to live by as we age is, if you don’t use it you will loose it.

Give Glen a call if you need a hand at Coffs Coast Health Club on 66586222.

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