The benefits of exercise are endless. In fact, research has shown that following a regular fitness plan can keep you looking and feeling younger and healthier than ever.
Being strong and fit in your 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond will help you say goodbye to menopause blues, minimise symptoms, manage weight, and get the feel-good factor back in your life. Add these exercise to your weekly routine…
Gone are the days when walking was considered to be running’s poor relation. Referred to as the “superfood of fitness”, walking is now thought to be a fast track to improved health, fitness, energy, and toned limbs.
Walking regularly has been proven to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by lowering the levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol and increasing ‘good’ cholesterol levels. And, according to the American Stroke Association, just 30 minutes of brisk walking a day can help to prevent and control high blood pressure.
At a brisk rate, you’ll burn up to 500 kilojoules every 1,5km. It’s definitely anti-ageing, too – a study at the University of California found that age-related memory decline was lower in women over 65 who walked just over 3km a day, compared with those who walked just under 1km a week.
You’ll also benefit from a lift in spirits, due to the endorphins released in the body after exercise. A study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found just 30 minutes of walking a day worked better at boosting mood than antidepressants.
Before you start walking, here are a few points to focus on:
- Keep your head up. Make sure you look forward, keeping your chin parallel to the ground.
- Straighten your spine. Don’t tilt forward, arch your back, or hunch your shoulders. You can gently tense abdominal muscles while you’re walking to help you maintain good posture.
- Don’t forget your arms. Maintain a bend in the elbow and, if you’re trying to speed up, try swinging arms at a faster pace with a 90-degree bend in the elbow. Vigorous arm swinging will also increase your kilojoule expenditure.
- Avoid over-striding. This can cause injury. If you want to speed up, try taking smaller, faster steps.
Start resistance training
This is crucial two to three times a week for boosting bone density, and for strengthening the muscles that surround and support your joints. This short routine focuses particularly on strengthening the muscles around the hips and back.
Squat with side kick – tones thighs, and strengthens the muscles around the hip joint.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Slowly, bend your knees to 90 degrees, pushing hips back and sticking bottom out, as if lowering yourself into a chair.
As you straighten up out of the squat, extend your left leg out to the side at hip height, before squatting back down again. Repeat, this time extending your right leg out. Do two sets of 30 reps each.
Bicep curl with squat – a great exercise to work bottom and thighs, and strengthen your shoulders, too.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a 1 to 1,5l bottle of water in each hand. Bend your knees, push hips back, and squat down. As you straighten up, curl the bottles to your shoulders, keeping arms tucked against your sides. Do two sets of 15 reps each.
Push-up and row – helps to keep the muscles around your shoulders and spine strong.
Start on all fours with a 1,5l bottle of water placed on the floor below each shoulder. Bend your elbows out to the side and roll forward on your knees to lower your hips, then chest, down to the floor.
As you push back up, lift the left bottle off the floor, extending your arm out in front of you at shoulder height. Lower the bottle down to the floor before repeating on the right. Do 10 reps on each side.
Modified flying plank – works your core, muscles of the arms, chest, and back, as well as your lower body.
Start in plank position, lying face down and resting on your forearms. Push yourself off the floor onto your toes – your body should form a straight line from head to heels.
Lift your left arm up and out to the side just below shoulder height, hold for five seconds, relax, and lower. Repeat with the right arm. Continue alternating for six reps. Relax in plank position, and repeat.
Try these tips too…
Grab a friend and try a new outdoor exercise class. Circuit-style sessions will tick all the boxes (kilojoule burning, fitness boosting, and bone strengthening), while outdoor yoga is the perfect way to improve flexibility and balance as you unwind.
Combine walking, jogging, or cycling sessions with a short park-bench routine. Use a park bench to add an extra challenge to lunges and push-ups, or try step-ups to tone the whole lower body and raise your heart rate.