You want to be strong, healthy and happy in your mature years and one of the best ways to do this is through strength training.
In fact, proper strength training in your 60s and beyond is about as important as getting your prostate checked or having a breast exam, because as you get older you lose muscle tissue. Research has found that there is some correlation between your overall health and how much muscle mass you have. Having a good amount of muscle mass can make your metabolism faster, it makes it easier to maintain your weight and it decreases your risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke, all while making you more stable on your feet.
While you don’t need ‘six pack abs’, having strong abdominal and back muscles can make everyday tasks — like carrying the groceries — even easier.
Here are four exercises that can get you on your way.
1. Squat to chair
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Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and have your toes turned out slightly. Extend your arms forward and keep them parallel to the floor throughout the movement. Bend you knees and reach your hips back as though you are going to fully seat yourself in a chair. Lower your hips until you feel the chair underneath you, but don’t sit. When you touch the chair with your butt, immediately press into your heels and stand back up again. That’s one. You want to complete at least 10 of these.
2. Alternate arm and leg raises
Kneel on all fours. Place your hands beneath your shoulders. Position your knees beneath your hips. Gently engage your deep abdominal muscles and maintain this contraction throughout. Extend your left leg behind your body and raise your left foot off the ground. Your left heel should not be higher than you left buttock. Reach your right arm in front of your body no higher than shoulder height. Aim to hold this pose for 5-10 seconds. Repeat on alternate sides.
You want to make sure your chin is tucked throughout this exercise to avoid putting strain on your neck. Keep breathing normally, but if you find you are struggling, stop.
Read more: The yoga poses to relieve your back pain
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3. Pelvic tilt
Lie down on the floor (or your bed) with your knees bent. Tighten your abdominal muscles and begin to press your lower back into the floor. Pause, then relax. Repeat 10 times.
You want to keep your breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
4. Bent knee fall outs
Lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat, you want to keep the natural inward curve in your lower back throughout this exercise. Gently activate your deep abdominal core muscles and imagine you are balancing a glass of water (or beer or wine) on your right knee, which should not move. Lower your left knee to the side just until your pelvis starts to roll to the left. This should be a very small outward movement, and as soon as you feel your pelvis start to move you need to lift your leg back to the starting position. Repeat the exercise up to 10 times for each leg.
If you feel your pelvis moving as you move your leg to the side, place your hands on your pelvic bones, which will help you feel whether any unwanted movement is occurring.
Do you incorporate strength exercises into your routine? Have you noticed a difference in your strength as you’ve got older?