Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Exercise: Women Over 50

Exercises Every Woman Over 50 Should Include in Her Daily Routine

How to be Healthy, Lean, and Sexy Well into Your Fifties


As a dedicated fan of the '80s spandex-required aerobics television programs, I jogged, jumped, and lunged in front of the screen every morning to maintain my weight.  The programs taught me how to exercise for heart health and flexibility.  I continued with these same exercises for many years, because it's enjoyable and it typically works.  However, the older I get, the more difficult it is to exercise without causing injury while also keeping the bulges at bay.  What follows are the exercises I've found to be best for women over 50.   

No spandex, but aerobics is still in fashion. 

Heart disease is a killer of the women in my family, so I include 30 minutes -- Gilad's Bodies in Motion -- of aerobic exercises and at least 20 minutes on my adult tricycle each day.  I often supplement my routine with walking around our extensive green belt.  

Strength training does more than build muscles! 

Not only can lifting weights maintain muscle mass as we age, its common knowledge that it also helps older women fight against bone loss and improves our posture.  Therefore, I also include at least 15 minutes of strength training using hand weights and elastic bands.   

Be flexible and try yoga. 

When I was younger, I'd jump out of bed ready for the day. Today, I'm a bit slower about jumping out of anything.  As we age our connective tissue ages with us, it's weaker and stiffer.  However, by including stretching exercises in our routine, we can reverse quite a bit of this.   Our local PBS network offers a yoga routine, which I perform twice a week.  So far, it has increased my flexibility and range of motion immensely.    

Strengthen the core to prevent injury and to gain balance. 

Many women over 50, me included, have balance issues.  Therefore, it's vitally important to strengthen core muscles to help prevent us from falling.  The added benefit is that these exercises trim the entire center of the body--think sleek and sexy.  However, the older we get, we injure easier and heal slower. Thus, it is essential to concentrate on performing all exercises with perfect form.    

My core training includes at least 10 minutes of abdominal and lower back exercises each day.  Crunches can hurt arthritis-afflicted necks like mine, so I include other exercises like the plank, the bridge, and mountain climber as well.  

How to do the exercises: plank, bridge, and mountain climber. 

Execute the plank by assuming a modified pushup position--resting on the elbows and toes. While keeping your back flat, hold this position with entire body aligned straight and face down for at least 30 seconds--breathe slowly in and out.  Keep abdominal muscles tight to prevent hurting your lower back.  I often add on to this simple exercise by leaning my body from right to left slowly.   

With the bridge, lay down with feet shoulder width apart and arms at your sides.  Raise the buttocks until your body is aligned straight and hold for a few seconds and then release.  Breathe out as you lift.   

Begin the mountain climber by assuming a pushup position, back straight and face down.  Bring one leg up, bending your knee as if you are climbing the ground beneath you and tap your toe. Return that foot to the original position and repeat with the other leg.   Exhale during each leg lift.  Modify by leaning on your elbows instead of your hands. 

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