Let’s face it. As we get older, it becomes increasingly more difficult to put exercise as a priority in our everyday to-do list. Often, it gets put on the back-burner behind work, taking care of family, errands, and other pressing tasks. This is a common struggle that needs to be addressed.
As people age, the body begins to slow down and muscle mass starts to decrease. Statistically, adults over the age of 40 lose about 3-5% of muscle mass with each subsequent decade of life. (1) Muscles are crucial in keeping bones strong and balanced. Without muscle strength, a person’s mobility and flexibility could be compromised.
This is why exercise needs to become a priority for people as they get older. Other key benefits include a healthier heart, reduced risk of chronic diseases, lowers the chance of injury, improves one’s mood, and helps with one’s cognitive function.
How to Incorporate Exercise into Your Everyday Routine
We understand that it’s hard to find the time and balance to exercise when your daily life feels like you have a mountain of things to accomplish and no room for a workout. What you will find below are simple exercises that you can do (without any equipment needed) to target specific health concerns.
Keeping Your Metabolism Active
A strong metabolism doesn’t only help burn more calories in your body but it also helps give you more energy. While you’re at it, check out this article that lists seven simple but effective steps to speed up your metabolism.
One specific exercise regime that’s known to be effective in building your metabolic rate is called high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or high-intensity intermittent exercise (HIIE) as it’s alternatively known.
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HIIT involves intense bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by varied periods of low-intensity active rest, or complete rest. (2) It’s effective in reducing body fat while also significantly lowers insulin resistance. (3) Here’s how you can do HIIT in 20 minutes or less.
(If you want to get right to the 21-day weight loss plan, scroll down to the bottom where we’ve outlined everything for you!)
1. Jumping jacks
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your sides. Jump your feet out while raising your arms. Repeat this as fast as possible. If it’s too difficult, modify by stepping side to side while raising your arms instead.
2. Sumo squats
Position your feet farther than hip-width and point your toes out at a 45-degree angle. While keeping your weight in your heels, back flat, and chest upright, lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Engage your glutes and quads and push back to the start position. Then repeat.
Do these two exercises in 3 rounds, 20 seconds work, and 10 seconds rest.
Protecting Your Back
Your back gives you the ability to bend and twist. If your spine, in particular, gets injured, it can greatly deteriorate your quality of life and you won’t be able to enjoy many activities you love. This is why it’s important to protect your back so your mobility doesn’t get affected and you lessen your chances of injury.
Exercising your core muscles helps provide support for your back. Here are a couple of exercises you can do.
3. Standard Plank
The plank helps not only with core conditioning but it also works your glutes and hamstrings, supports proper posture, and improves balance. To execute, hold your elbows directly under your shoulders and place your wrists in line with your elbows. Then push your body up into your upper back and hold a plank at least 20 to 30 seconds. Rest for approximately one minute and repeat 3-5 more times.
4. Bicycle Kicks
This exercise targets your oblique and lower abdominals. Lie on your back with your legs extended and hands folded across your chest. Pull right knee in toward your chest while twisting your left shoulder toward the right knee. Return to starting position and repeat with the other knee and shoulder. Do 12 repetitions for 3 sets.
Protecting Your Joints
Joint pain relief workouts help and even avoid joint problems that have been worsening for years by strengthening key supportive muscles and restoring flexibility. When practiced over time, you will notice that the limitations you’ve learned to work around begin to ease.
Swimming is a great aerobic workout that helps stretch your muscles and soothe your joints. It also helps control weight, boost mood, improve sleep, and it’s good for overall health. Do any aerobic exercise such as walking, swimming or biking three to five times a week for 30 to 60 minutes per session.
If you want to stay dry, cycling is a fantastic option and it’s easy on the joints, too. With similar benefits to swimming, cycling can help reduce your risk of stroke, heart attack, obesity, depression, and arthritis. Whether you go out for a bike ride or stay home on a stationary one, as little as 20 minutes of cycling can make a huge difference. You’ll begin to notice increased joint mobility and bone and muscle strength.
Minimize Sarcopenia (Muscle Loss with Age)
Most adults reach their best muscle mass at age 30 to 40 and after that, it starts to lessen. This age-related loss of muscle mass, strength and function is known as sarcopenia. To help decrease frailty and improve muscle strength, incorporate exercise in your daily routine. (4)
7. Lying Hip Bridges
This exercise works your largest muscle group, your glutes while also opening up the hips. To execute, lie flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Flatten your lower back against the floor, squeeze your glutes and push your hips up into the air. Pause, then slowly lower to start. Do this exercise 12 times for 3 sets.
8. Squats to Chair
Squats help strengthen your entire lower body and core. To perform, stand with your feet hip-width apart with your back facing the chair. Keeping your chest upright, push your hips back and bend your knees to lower your body to either touch your butt to their chair or sit down fully. Then, push your feet and squeeze your glutes to return to the starting position. Repeat this exercise 10 times for 3 sets.
Boost Your Heart Health
The more you exercise your heart muscle, the stronger and healthier it gets. People who don’t exercise are almost twice as likely to get heart disease compared to people who live an active lifestyle. (5)
You can choose any activity you enjoy doing like walking, running, or cycling. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that for moderate intensity, you can do cardio for 30 minutes, 5 days a week. If you prefer lower intensity, do cardio for 20 minutes, 3 days a week. (6)
Exercise is not only good for your body but also for your mental health. It produces endorphins, which are chemicals in your brain that are natural painkillers for reducing stress and improving sleep. In addition, exercise has been found to decrease levels of tension, elevate mood, and improve self-esteem. (7)
Yoga is one form of exercise that combines physical poses, controlled breathing, and meditation or relaxation. Here are a couple of yoga poses you can do at home.
Stand with legs 3 to 4 feet apart, turning your right foot out 90 degrees and your left foot in slightly. Bring your hands to your hips and relax your shoulder. Then, extend your arms out to the sides with your palms facing down. Bend your right knee to 90 degrees, keeping your knee in line with your ankle. Stay for 1 minute, and then switch to the other side.
Lie face down on the floor with your thumbs directly under your shoulder, legs extended with your toes flat on the floor. Tighten your pelvic floor and tuck your hips downward as you squeeze your glutes. Then press your shoulders down and away from your ears. Push through your thumbs and index finger as you raise your chest. Hold that position for 1 minute and then relax and repeat.
The 21-Day Fitness Challenge
Everyone has different schedules, so the best time to do this will be completely up to you. We suggest doing them in the morning because it helps with waking up and getting loose for the day. If you can incorporate a 10-minute workout into your morning routine, another 10-minute midday or evening workout will get you into shape even faster.
Day 1: Sumo Squats (30 seconds on, 30 seconds off) | Standard plank (30 seconds on, 30 seconds off) | Lying hip bridges (30 seconds on, 30 seconds off))
Day 2: Jumping Jacks (60 seconds) | Bicycle Kicks (30 seconds on, 30 seconds off) | Chair squat (30 seconds on, 30 seconds off)
Day 3: Walk, swim, or cycle for at least 30 minutes
Day 4: Sumo Squats (30 seconds on, 15 seconds off) | Standard plank (30 seconds on, 15 seconds off) | Lying hip bridges (30 seconds on, 15 seconds off))
Day 5: Jumping Jacks (60 seconds) | Bicycle Kicks (30 seconds on, 15 seconds off) | Chair squat (30 seconds on, 15 seconds off)
Day 6: Walk, swim, or cycle for at least 30 minutes
Day 7: Rest
We suggest finishing your workouts with the warrior and cobra pose to cool down. Additionally, doing this will help fight stress – a perfect way to begin a busy day at work!
In the second and third weeks, if you want to make your exercises more challenging, you can gradually do a number of things:
- Instead of resting on the seventh day, you can add in another walk, swim, or cycle session
- You can increase the individual workout durations and decrease rest times
- If you have time, you can do one or two extra 10-minute session
Regardless of your age, it’s never too late to start exercising. Try your best to incorporate physical activity into your daily life even if it’s just for 20 minutes a day.
If you find yourself struggling with any of the health concerns above, follow the recommended exercises and you’ll likely see an improvement in your health and mobility once you keep at it for at least three weeks. As for helping the aging process of your skin, here are 11 anti-aging foods that will do wonders in helping you look better than you already do.
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