In order to maintain strength and muscle tone, a slim figure, a healthy heart and lungs, it is necessary to include approximately 20 minutes of exercise each day.
STOP PRESS: Recent studies show that a healthy lifestyle can reduce the likelihood of developing dementia by 60%. The most important component of the healthy lifestyle described in that 60% reduction was regular exercise.
Walking and jogging are the most convenient forms of exercise. If you choose to walk, maintain a brisk pace and try to include five hills (it can be the same hill five times). Cover about a kilometre and a half or two kilometres. If you choose to jog the same applies. One and a half to two kilometres and five hills. When I say five hills, I mean that about one third of your walk or jog should be uphill. Have a rest here and there to help you manage.
It is convenient to exercise in the morning before showering, dressing and getting ready for the day; it is too easy to run out of time for exercising as your day becomes busier and busier. Don’t bother trying to exercise when away from home, it is too hard. If you are on holidays, you’re bound to walk or swim most days.
Wear a sports bra and shorts (tights in winter) socks and good running shoes – expect to pay about $150 for the shoes. I like to keep a bare mid-riff for comfort, but do add a long-sleeved T-shirt in winter. Gloves are good on frosty mornings. Take care not to overdress, because you will be moving briskly, puffing and perspiring up those five hills.
When embarking on an exercise routine, take it gradually at the beginning and work up to a longer distance over time. Expect sore muscles at the start.
Say start by exercising for about eight minutes (not counting stretching exercises). Maintain this for one week. Second week, increase to 12 minutes, third week, 16 minutes, fourth week, 20 minutes.
If this is hard to achieve, only increase every fortnight or every three weeks. Be flexible and careful not to push yourself too hard too soon.
Feel free to walk ten paces – jog ten paces – walk ten paces – jog ten paces. Start by walking up the hills until you feel fit enough to break into a jog on the uphill section.
If it rains and you can’t go outdoors try to find an alternative. If you have stairs, 20 times up and down gives a satisfactory workout. Don’t go too fast or you may trip. If you don’t have stairs it will have to be a rest day. Stairs are good if you don’t have hills in your vicinity. Walk briskly up the stairs 10 to 20 times as well as walking or jogging on flat ground.
You may choose to use a walking machine, rowing machine, bicycle or stationary bicycle. Remember, 20 minutes, five hills or the equivalent.
If swimming, do 10 or twenty laps or swim for 20 minutes, but keep up the pace to compensate for no hills. You are trying to burn calories, tone muscles and exercise your heart and lungs. You need to puff and pant.
Metabolism is the word used to describe the conversion of food to energy. If you exercise regularly your metabolic rate will improve. With an improved metabolic rate you will burn more calories more quickly even when you are not exercising.
As we age, we lose strength. We can’t lift the watering can as easily as we used to. It is important to exercise in order to maintain as much strength as we can.
If you experience cramps or sharp muscle pain when exercising, stop and stretch that muscle (it is usually a leg muscle) before continuing. If the pain persists include a stretching exercise to target that area for a time during pre-exercise warm-ups (see later this section). Use an elastic support for a while.
Walking and jogging on unsealed surfaces is preferable but not always possible. Unsealed surfaces are kinder to the hips, knees and other joints. If you need to walk or jog on a sealed surface, pay attention to having well cushioned soles on your shoes.
Whilst walking on level ground is better than nothing, the benefits will be barely noticeable. Do your best to include five hills to make your exercise worthwhile. You will achieve the ultimate benefit from jogging instead of walking and including those five hills.
It is easy to make excuses about why you cannot walk or jog, usually the excuse involves a knee or ankle problem. If this is your problem try cycling on a stationary bicycle or swimming. A variety of sports injury elastic supports are available for knees and ankles. Wear one of these whilst exercising. You may like to try gym workouts. Exercise classes for older ladies are usually too gentle and too infrequent to be beneficial and yoga may not be frequent or strenuous enough to burn those calories.
I recommend walking and jogging because no equipment, no other people or costs are involved; just your initiative. Out the door and it’s on!
Always warm-up for five or so minutes before you start your exercise.
I have illustrated six warm-ups, strengtheners and stretches, plus a neck exercise. Do a few each day before exercising and try to cover all of the exercises at least once over three days. Do the neck exercise every day. Just do these exercises to the best of your ability, but be sure to feel the stretch in the stretching exercises.
Stand comfortably, hands on hips. Tilt your head back and slowly rotate, stretching your neck as far as possible. Return to your starting position. Repeat in the opposite direction.
Lie on the floor, knees bent. Let your toes sit up off the floor. Hands out in front and sit up 12 times.
TOP TIP: Tense pelvic floor muscles and give them a workout at the same time as you are strengthening your stomach muscles.
Bend one leg to the side and straighten the other leg. Put one hand on your lower thigh (straight leg) and the other hand on your hip (bent leg). Lean over the straight leg, pushing towards the bent leg for a count of 12. Repeat on the other side.
Sit on a chair and raise then lower one leg 12 times. Repeat with the other leg.
Stand comfortably, make your hands into fists and bend your arms to your chest. Move your arms back behind your body as far as you can, hold for a second or two, then back to your chest (Fig 1 & 2). Do 12 times. Finish by windmilling your
outstretched arms around your head six times. You may like to use weights.
For other great Health & Beauty Tips For Women Aged Between 60 & 80, Margaret Woodberry’s book is available for $23.25 via Booktopia.