By 60 retirement is in sight, but so might be visions of a bad back. Coupled with a growing concern that tasks that were once so simple are suddenly becoming just that little bit harder.
But if you want to run alongside your grandkids, rather than watch them from your armchair or continue with your gardening without the fear of getting stuck down in the begonias you need to keep up with your strength training.
Let’s start with a bit of bad news. As we age muscle and bone deteriorates, your metabolism slows and your flexibility ain’t what it was! Now for the good news. Regular exercise can slow down these symptoms.
Aside from the 150 minutes of exercise a week that’s recommended for healthy adults, Fit4mum founder Melissa Lorch has also explained a handful of important exercises you can do at home. Many of these mimic the tasks you’ll be wanting to do in daily life – to keep you as active as possible, for as long as possible!
How often have you heard yourself groan or grunt as you get up out of a chair? Well that’s why this very movement is so important.
“The action of standing up and then sitting back down onto a normal kitchen chair and repeating is a squatting action,” explains Melissa. “If you’re a little more advanced you can hover your bottom over the chair without actually sitting down, before standing back up again. If you think you can, you can even do it with no chair at all. Repeat 10 times.”
Whether you are playing tennis, carrying your shopping or walking up the stairs to bed your legs are involved in most of your daily activities. Since they are your largest muscle group too it’s important to keep them active.
“Step one leg forward and drop your back knee down towards the ground as far as you can comfortably go, while bending your front knee too. You’re legs should be at right angles so you aren’t leaning over your front leg. Straighten your legs and repeat 5 times before switching legs.”
Don’t worry, we aren’t suggesting you drop to the floor military style and give us 20! But push ups against a wall are great for strengthening the upper body muscles.
“Stand facing a wall about arms length away,” explains Melissa. “Place your hands on the wall shoulder width apart. Don’t move your feet but bend your elbows to lower your body into the wall. If this is too easy try doing it at an angle, so against a kitchen countertop. If that’s still too simple you can do a box press up on your knees and if you can do a full press up you probably don’t need this advice. Try to do ten to twelve reps.”
The superman is a brilliant exercise. But you’ll be glad to know this doesn’t involve flying.
“The superman exercise is great for strengthening your lower and upper back and glute muscles. It will therefore help you with movements that require bending over and sitting,” says Melissa.
“Lie on the floor face down with your arms stretched out in front of you. Lift one arm and at the same time life the opposite leg just off the floor. Squeeze your bottom muscles and gentle lower down and switch sides. Repeat five or six times on both sides.”
The very thought of not being able to reach around and put your seatbelt on might seem silly, but it’s one of those movements that becomes trickier as you age.
“You should cap off your strength training with a rotational move like a wood chop,” adds Melissa. “Pretend you are holding a weight between your hands – or actually use a light dumbbell if you feel comfortable doing so – and lift it up and over to your left shoulder, drop it gently round to your right hip, as if you were chopping wood. Repeat five times on one side before switching to the other.”
If you enjoy keeping in shape and want to learn more you might want to read about why horse riding might be the perfect anti-dote to stress. And did you know that exercise can help with symptoms of menopause.