- Bone strengthening
- Muscle toning
Before you start this, or any exercise programme, please check with your doctor if you suffer from heart disease, have high blood pressure, joint problems, back problems, if you are very overweight, have a serious illness, or are convalescing. Check out location and surfaces before performing any exercises in your home or out in the garden. Make sure you are warm enough but wear layered loose clothing, which can be discarded as you hot up! It is essential to make sure that the supports and equipment you use are strong enough to take your weight, and that surfaces are not wet or slippery. Don’t exercise until at least an hour after meals, and keep drinking water near at hand to avoid becoming dehydrated.
- To prepare your body for exercise
Stand with feet apart, feel nice and easy. Bend your knees – bend forward from your waist – swing arms down and behind you. Straightening your knees swing your arms up high above your head-lift up rib cage breathe deeply and stretch out your entire body.
If you are chair bound simply bend forward and touch your toes, straighten up and reach for the sky.
Begin your fitness programme with some gentle stretching. First check out and correct your posture.
Stand with your feet comfortably apart and your shoulders back, down and relaxed. Pull in your tummy and tuck your tail under tilting your pelvis forward.
- Wrist Circle
To maintain mobility of the wrists sit or stand and tuck your elbows into your waist. Simply circle your hands working the wrists. 8 times in one direction and 8 times in the other.
To release tension and mobilise the shoulders simply place your fingertips on your shoulders. Bring your elbows together in front of you, take them up and back pulling your shoulder blades together and drawing imaginary circles with your elbows. 8 times clockwise and 8 times anti-clockwise.
· Head roll
To release tension and mobilise the neck look over your right shoulder with chin parallel to the floor. Drop your chin to chest and slowly roll it to look over your left shoulder. Roll chin back to chest and on over to the right side. Repeat 8 times. Do not roll your head backwards.
- Ankle circle
Stand with your feet a little apart and hold onto a table or chair back for support. Lift up the heel of your right foot keeping toes on the floor and circle your ankle. 8 times clockwise and 8 times anti-clockwise. Repeat with your left foot. (You can do this exercise sitting down).
- Side twist
Sit or stand with feet apart. Bend your arms and with elbows out bring them up to shoulder level with fingertips touching in front of your chest. Twist your upper body and head around to the right side to mobilise your spine and upper body. But keep your hips facing forward. Come back to centre and twist to the left side. 8 times each side.
- Side reach
Sit or stand with feet apart. With your right hand reach up and over your head (relax left knee if standing). Bring arm down and reach up and over with left hand (relaxing right knee) as if climbing a rope. 8 times to both sides.
WARM UP STRETCH
Hold all stretches still for 8 seconds. Do not bounce.
- Calf stretch
To stretch out the back muscle of the lower leg stand with your feet hip width apart facing a wall for support. Place your hands up at shoulder level with arms straight. Keep both feet facing forward but take your right foot back behind you. Keep your leg straight and press your heel down hard and push against the wall. Feel the stretch in your right calf. Hold for 8 seconds. Repeat with left leg.
- Hamstring stretch
To stretch out the hamstring muscle (back of thigh and bottom) stand with your feet facing forward as before, but further back from the wall. Using wall for support take your right foot forward. With knee straight place it heel down and toes facing upwards. Bend your left knee, push against the wall and lift up the right side of your bottom. Feel the stretch in the back of your thigh and bottom. Hold for 8 seconds. Repeat with left leg.
- Upper back stretch
Sit or stand to stretch out your upper back. Bend your elbows and bring arms up to shoulder level. Place hands on elbows, drop your head forward and round out your back and stretch. Hold for 8 seconds.
- Tricep stretch
Sit or stand to stretch out the tricep muscle ( back of your upper arm). Take your right arm up, bend your elbow and place your right hand behind your head on your middle upper back. Take your left hand across your chest and push back your right upper arm and shoulder as far as possible. Hold for 8 seconds. Repeat with the left arm.
- Chest stretch
Sit or stand to stretch out your chest. Take both arms behind you and place your hands on your bottom. Pull back your shoulders and elbows. Lift up your rib cage and feel the stretch across your chest. Hold for 8 seconds.
Regular aerobic exercise improves heart and lung function and helps to control blood pressure Blood pressure changes with age and can increase through illness and over-exertion. Don’t suddenly start to exercise if you already suffer from high blood pressure. Begin by simple brisk walking – preferably out of doors.
As we get older it is essential to be able to perceive our own physical rate of exertion in order to prevent problems. This is a simple test. Jog on the spot for a minute. Stop and ask yourself how you feel and give yourself ratings.
- Feel exhausted
- Feel OK but a bit puffed
- Feel good and could do more
Be aware of your body – these are your individuals perceived rates of exertion. During your work out keep asking yourself “which level am I working at?” If you perceive it to be:
- 1 Take it easy, but try to gradually build up over the following days until you feel a comfortable 2 or maybe eventually 3.
- 2 Try a bit harder
- 3 Challenge yourself a bit more. Build up the duration and intensity of your work out. If you feel uncomfortable and breathless, or if you are in pain or lack co-ordination, then decrease the duration and intensity to level 2.
Whatever level you are working at always monitor your progress and don’t overdo it!
“Aerobic” means exercising with air and you should puff and breathe deeply when you exercise in order to achieve. The increased intake of air enables your muscles to work harder and longer and the result is increased stamina, and improved heart and lung efficiency. If your stamina is very low, it is important to build up the aerobic section of your exercise programme gradually. If your posture is poor, breathing will be difficult and the amount of air inhaled will be less. You see how important it is tot maintain strength, and flexibility of the chest joints as we age in order for them to be able to expand and accommodate deeper breathing.
Aerobic exercise is weight bearing exercise, (no need for dumb bells – the body is using it’s own weight). Consequently aerobic exercise helps strengthen the spine, hips and ankles, because they have to support the weight of our bodies during the work out. But you don’t need to go to the gym to exercise, the following movements can easily be performed at home. Low impact aerobic exercises have sufficient pull on the muscles to improve bone density (more about that in the section on osteoporosis on page ……) as well as to improve stamina, without exhaustion
- Aerobic march
Clear a space and put on some upbeat music. Simply march on the spot for a minute. Lift your feet up, roll through the ball of your foot and keep your weight over your big and second toe. Now lift your knees higher and pump your arms. March on around the room and/or garden for several minutes until you begin to puff.
- Aerobic stand
Choose an upright chair without arms and sit down (towards the front of it.) Without using your arms to push off simply stand up and sit down continuously in time to the music. Aim to stand up, leading with your chest forward, and with hands on your thighs. If this is difficult, place your hands on a table in front to steady you. (It’s very important to correct posture and strengthen thighs in order to maintain physical independence into older age)
- Aerobic step
Face a wide, dry step 4-6 inches high (8 if you are very fit) Hold onto a banister or wall for support. Leading with your right heel, place your right foot up in the centre of the step. With your body weight over your knee and foot, step up. (Don’t let heel or toe hang over the edge of the step). Remember your posture – balance is improved by working on co-ordination of movement and symmetry of the body. Step your left foot up to join your right foot, leaning from the ankle joint. Step back down with your right foot. Keep close to step and land on the ball of your foot, and lower your heel down to absorb the shock. Step back down with the left foot. Continue “stepping” for a few minutes, then change to lead with your left foot for a further 2 minutes. Aim to eventually step without the support, for maximum effect.
- Aerobic tap
Stand with feet together. In time to the music step right foot out to the right side – transferring weight onto it. Bring left foot across and tap it to the side of the right foot. Step left foot out to the left side. Transfer weight and bring right foot to tap onto side of left foot. Repeat and swing your arms to sides and clap to the beat. Increase the intensity by swinging arms higher and stepping legs higher and wider. Continue for 2 minutes and enjoy the rhythm.
- Spot walking
Gradually bring the intensity down, by walking on the spot with your hands by your side for 1 minute. Finally, place your hands on your hips and continue for 1 more minute, simply transferring your weight from one foot to the other. Only lift your heels and keep both feet in contact with the floor. Now stop!
- Pelvic tilt
First learn the “pelvic tilt”. This is the correct position to adopt in order to perform abdominal exercises correctly.
Lie on your back – knees bent, slightly apart – feet flat on the floor. Breathe in – pull in your tummy muscles and push your lower back (your waist) into the floor. This action flattens the arch in your back and tilts your pelvis upwards. Remember to hold this pelvic tilt throughout all abdominal exercises. Breathe out and relax
- Abdominal lift
- Lie back on the floor (rest your head on a small cushion if it’s more comfortable). Bend your knees, and keep your feet flat on the floor. Reach your arms forward and place your hands on your thighs. Pull in your tummy, push your back down into the floor, and tilt your pelvis up. Breathe out, and lift your head and shoulders up, sliding your hands up to your knees. Breathe in as you slowly relax down. Control both the up and down movement -don’t just flop back! Begin with 8 repetitions and build up to 24.
(To increase the intensity of this exercise cross your arms over your chest as you lift up. To increase the intensity still further, place your fingertips on your temples, keeping your elbows out to the sides. Tilt your pelvis, breathe out, and lift your head and shoulders up. Keep your elbows back, head steady, and chin down on chest.)
- Abdominal twist
Lie in the same position, but place right elbow on the floor with fingers to temples and left hand on thigh. Tilt pelvis, breathe out and lift your head and shoulders up, reaching over with your left hand to touch the outside of your right knee. Breathe in, and relax back down.
To increase the intensity of this exercise, from the same lying position, cross your right knee over your left and take your right arm out to the side, palm down. Place the fingers of your left hand to your temple, with elbow out. Breathe out, lifting up your head and shoulders, and try to reach across to touch the outside of your right knee, with your left elbow. Breathe in, and relax back down. 8 repetitions, building up to 24. Change legs and repeat to the other side.
· Abductor (outer thigh) muscle
Lie on your side, bend your knees and bring them both slightly forward. Bend your elbow, and support your head in your hand. Place your other hand on the floor, in front of your waist for support. Don’t roll forward or backwards. Pull in your tummy, and tighten your bottom. Flex your foot, keep your knee bent, and, leading with your heel lift up your top leg (not too high). Keep your foot lower than your knee, and don’t drop your hip back. Control both the up and down movement. (A bent leg is called a 1/2 lever)
To increase the intensity of this exercise, lie as before but place your lower bent leg, back in line with your upper body. Straighten your upper leg, (full lever) and lift and lower as before, leading with your heel. Remember to keep the tummy and bum tight throughout the exercise. Begin with 8 lifts, then roll over and repeat the exercise with the other leg, gradually increasing to 24.
You can add leg weights to increase the intensity still further.
· Adductor (inner thigh) muscle
Still lying on your side, take your top leg over the bottom one, and place your knee on the floor. Straighten out your under leg, in line with your upper body. Flex your foot, and, leading with your heel, lift and lower your leg 8 times, with small controlled movements. Feel the inner thigh muscles working! Roll over and repeat exercise with your other leg. Gradually increase to 24 lifts.
- Bottom lift
- Kneel down, bend your elbows out and place them on the floor. Bend forward from your hips, and rest your forehead on your crossed hands. Lift and take, one leg up and back, bending your knee 90%, (1/2 lever), your thigh parallel with the floor. With small, but controlled movements, lift and lower your leg 8 times. Pull up your tummy muscles; don’t let your back sag. Keep both hips facing downward, and feel your bottom muscles working. Change legs, and repeat lifts, gradually increasing to 24
From the same position and with the leg bent as before, take the raised knee across and down, over to the outside calf of your other leg. Return knee up, parallel to floor, and repeat 8 times, increasing to 24 as you get stronger. Change to the other knee, and repeat lifting and crossing. You should certainly feel your gluteal muscles work during this exercise!
- Stand up
Brisk walking is excellent exercise for maintaining strong leg muscles, so too are simple stand ups. Sit on the edge of an upright dining chair – hands on thighs – feet flat on the floor (slightly apart and back under the front of the seat). Simply stand upright and sit back down again – don’t use your hands to push off! Aim to stand up leading with your chest forward.
If this is difficult due to rounded shoulders or bad posture. Place hands on table in front of you for support. Repeat standing and sitting 10 times and build up repetitions according to personal ability.
The big muscles in the front of your upper arms, the biceps must be kept strong in order to perform everyday upper body activities such as lifting and carrying.
To strengthen and shape simply sit on an upright chair (without arms) with your feet flat on the floor – knees at right angles. Tuck your elbows tightly into your waist. Keep position throughout the exercise. Imagine you are lifting heavy weights, rise up your lower arms, fists to shoulders, and lower back down 10 times. Make it harder by using hand weights, or small plastic drinks bottles filled with water or sand.
The triceps muscles at the back of the arms work with the biceps muscles in the front of the arms to produce strength and movement.
Exercise them by sitting as before, but incline your upper body and head slightly forward. Pull in your tummy to maintain a good position and make a fist or use weights. With elbows bent, pull shoulders together and take your upper arms back and up. Hold them still in this position throughout exercise. Straighten out and push down your lower arms, turning fists out at the same time. (Don’t “lock” the elbows.) Keep upper arms in position – bend your elbows and bring your fists or weights, back up to your shoulders 10 times. Feel the back of your upper arm working!
Most “activities” require a strong back. The following exercises strengthen the back, but if your back is weak consult your Doctor before attempting these exercises.
- Back up
Lie face to the floor – take your hands behind you – place your palms on your bottom. – Pull back your shoulders and breathe in. As you breathe out lift your shoulders, chest and head up – keep them in a straight line. Look down and don’t arch back. Relax and repeat
To help “round shoulders” lie as before. Take your arms out to the sides, bend your elbow (90%) – place your hands up on the floor, elbows out at shoulder level. Breathe out – pull shoulders back – lift arms and hands, raise head, shoulders and back (in a straight line) off the ground like a bird in flight. Keep looking down. Relax and repeat both exercises slowly and carefully 4 times, building up as you gain strength.
(If this position is uncomfortable, keep head down – pull shoulders back and work arms only).