Boost your physical activity for increased vitality 11



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While making time for physical activity can be a challenge, research shows that over 50s who make the effort to exercise are reaping the rewards. A recent study into over 50s by Nature’s Own has found that over a third (34%) of those surveyed feel in better health now than in their younger years.

So how does one start increasing (or taking up) physical activity safely and successfully in their later years?

Here are my favourite tips for exercising in the gym, outside of the gym, and what kind of goals you should set yourself to become a force of nature.

Get fit without leaving the house, no equipment required with these tried and tested exercises:

  • Calf Raises

Use a sturdy chair to help you keep your balance whilst holding your arms out in front of your body, and balance on one leg. Then raise up onto your toes lifting your heel as high as you can off the floor, and hold for 3 seconds before slowly lowering to the ground and repeating.

Benefit: Calf strength is important for maintaining normal gait (walking patterns) and reducing the risk of falls.

  • Wall Push-ups

This exercise will strengthen your upper body, including your arms, chest and back. Start by having your hands on the wall at shoulder height, then simply bend at the elbows and lower your chest towards the wall whilst maintaining a straight neck and back position. Then push-up gently and feel your muscles contract under the pressure.

Benefit: Building your upper body strength will aid simple, everyday tasks such as getting out of bed or getting up off the floor.

  • Chair Squats
  1. Find a chair with a seat height mid-way between your hips and knees, and definitely no lower than your knee height.
  2. Use a chair with arm rests if you need support for this one, otherwise, just cross your arms across your chest and then stand up from a seated position off the chair.
  3. Stand about 30cm away from the chair edge and stick your bottom out as far back as you can, lowering yourself towards the seat. Instead of sitting down, tap the chair and quickly stand back up. This will improve the strength of your glutes.

Benefit: Chair squats will help with getting in and out of the car as well as low chairs and couches.

Keen to get into the gym but feeling a little daunted by all the machines? Try these below tips to help make the process a little easier!

Most gyms offer an initial assessment where a qualified trainer or even an exercise physiologist can guide you through a basic exercise program to suit your needs, so make sure you take advantage of this! Following that initial assessment, try these exercises on for size:

  • Cardiovascular exercise – use a bike, cross-trainer, stepper or treadmill for at least 10-20 minutes per session to warm up and cool down
  • Machine weights – build your confidence slowly by starting with select machines and low weights that enable you to complete multiple repetitions. As you build your strength over time, increase the weight in small increments.
  1. Opt for an upright chest press/bench press machine which is pin loaded and easily adjustable for your height and comfort. Then select an appropriate weight that will allow you to perform at least 10-15 repetitions for 2-3 times.
  2. Similarly, choose at least 1-2 back exercises where you can perform several repetitions in multiple sets. Try a seated rowing machine (which requires pulling handles towards your body) or a lat pulldown machine (which requires pulling the weight down towards your collar bone and back up above your head.)
  • Free weights – choose light to moderate free weights for some simple bicep curls or shoulder press exercises above the head, recommended to maintain optimal strength in the upper body for daily functioning.

Set your fitness goals. Whether you’re working out at home or in the gym, try and aim for the below targets initially so you can monitor your improvements!

  • Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity most days of the week, regardless of age, weight or abilities. After all, the benefits of exercise are unlimited!
  • Although the benefits of aerobic training are well documented, it’s now known that resistance training offers a wealth of unique benefits – especially when it comes to bone mineral density and maintaining lean body mass. Incorporating a range of activities including exercises for strength, balance and flexibility, is the ideal way to go.
  • Lastly, start by limiting your sitting time and increasing your overall daily movement – be that walking somewhere that you would usually drive, or taking the long way home. For motivation, try using a pedometer or an app on your smart phone to monitor your daily activity, aiming to take about 10,000 steps per day.

Share your thoughts below.


Authored by Nature’s Own Exercise Physiologist and Dietitian, Kate Save

Kate Save

Kate Save is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian, Accredited Exercise Physiologist, has completed a double degree in Nutrition/Dietetics and Exercise Science, and completed an Advanced Diploma in Diabetes Education. Kate has over 10 years of experience in the Health and Fitness industry. Kate is the Director of Peninsula Physical Health and Nutrition which has 7 locations across the Mornington Peninsula as well as managing Dietitian and Exercise Physiology services for 2 Private hospitals. Kate also lectures in the fields of Nutrition and Exercise Science for various educational institutions - her key areas of focus are Weight loss, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Bariatric Surgery Nutrition, Coeliac Disease, Eating Disorders, food intolerances and irritable bowel conditions. Her main objective is to assist individuals achieve optimal health and well-being through balanced nutrition and appropriate exercise prescription.

  1. I do most of these things at home and start tai chi this week. How about some expert advice for people with lung problems? I believe there would be quite a few of us. I seem to be o ly able to manage around 5000 steps.

  2. I go to the gym and do bootcamp as well 6 mornings a week and feel and look fabulous, anyone can do it if you put your mind tonight it, I also have 2 hip replacements and am doing this to preserve my bone density and muscle mass

  3. Exercise isn’t just about ‘anyone can do it’ and making up your mind and going for it. Some people have real hindrances to exercise and the suggestions here I think are

  4. I’ve been doing yoga for 20 years, I also do a cardio class and walk every day that I can and I am feeling great at 68

  5. I suffer from chronic pain still work but no energy left to do more as still have a home to try and run. NOT always that simple yet prior to my accident was very fit and sports/fitness orientated. Have had to learn to accept limitations and enjoy some quality of life. Doesn’t help the massive adjustment when social media keeps posting about ‘the beautiful /healthy /gym bunny’ type or looking folks Not anti getting people to make an effort to reduce obesity increase muscle tone BUT can’t all do this (and been injured /disabled for 30 years not obese but latest meds meant 6k weight increase – first increase in 42 years so yes keep fit lose weight am certainly not anti )

  6. I have almost completed a course focusing on the benefits of moving and limiting sitting time. 10000 steps a day is only part of the story, at least 3000 of these should be in a 15 minute time slot. Benefits can be the reduced risk of many chronic diseases. Lots of evidence to support this.

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