Simple stretching routine – just 5 minutes!

Time to discuss stretching, which is often overlooked in exercise sessions. Yet it’s a very important aspect of fitness, as a good range of movement is needed for many everyday tasks such as tying shoelaces, gardening or reaching for something on a shelf.
Stretching can have the following benefits:

  • increased range of movement at joints
  • reduced stiffness
  • improved posture and balance

I may have bent the truth a little in the title. The stretching itself should not take more than 5 minutes, however to stretch your muscles they need to be warm and therefore take 5 minutes just to warm up the body. This could be a walk around the garden or a couple of times up and down the stairs.

Stretching shouldn’t hurt – stop at the point of tension and avoid bouncing or jarring movements. Inhale deeply as you begin a stretch, and exhale fully as you move deeper into the stretch. Hold each stretch for 15 seconds.

Quadricep stretch

  1. Stand with your feet hip width apart and knees slightly bent
  2. Bend knee, grab the front of the ankle and pull the foot towards the bottom until a stretch is felt in the front of the thigh.
  3. Hold for 15 seconds, release and change legs.

Hamstring stretch

  1. Stand with your feet hip width apart and knees slightly bent
  2. Place hands on hips and take a small step forward keeping the front leg straight and slightly bending the rear knee.
  3. Lean forwards from the waist, keeping the back straight.
  4. Hold for 15 seconds, release and change legs.

Calf stretch

  1. Stand with your feet hip width apart and knees bent slightly
  2. Take a step backwards – the front knee should be directly in line with the ankle.
  3. With hands on your hips lean your body forward slightly, keeping back foot on floor.
  4. Hold for 15 seconds, release and change legs.

Hip Flexor Stretch

  1. Stand with your feet hip width apart and knees bent slightly
  2. Take a long step forward.
  3. Bend your front knee and ensure your back leg is slightly bent.
  4. Keep your front foot on the floor and your back heel off, make sure your feet are facing forward and slightly apart.
  5. Hold for 15 seconds, release and change legs.

Chest stretch

  1. Stand with your feet hip width apart and knees slightly bent
  2. Place your hands on your hips just above the bottom with palms facing the body and move the elbows backwards until a mild stretch is felt.
  3. Hold for 15 seconds and then release.

Upper back stretch

  1. Stand with your feet hip width apart and knees slightly bent
  2. Clasp your hands together in front of you with palms facing the body
  3. Straighten the arms and gently raise to shoulder height
  4. Make a round back and push your hands away from you, lowering the chin slightly.
  5. Hold for 15 seconds and then release.

Lat Stretch (or back stretch part 2!)

  1. Stand with your feet hip width apart and knees slightly bent
  2. Clasp your hands together in front of you with palms facing the body, do not interlock the fingers.
  3. Reach upwards and, bringing your arms together slowly straighten your arms directly above the head without locking them out.
  4. Hold for 15 seconds and then release.

Shoulder Stretch

  1. Hold your left arm across your body and grab the back of your left elbow with your right hand
  2. Pull the left elbow in as far as you can so that your left fingertips can reach around your right shoulder.
  3. Hold for 15 seconds, release and change arms.
All done!
Flexibility is a “use it or lose it” skill and you can always improve your range of motion and increase your flexibility . It is recommended that you stretch at minimum twice a week but an active individual could include some stretching everyday.

If you have any questions on this article, or any questions about exercise and the over-50s please post a comment. By subscribing to this blog you will be informed of any new articles. You will not receive any spam email.

For more information on Personal Training please go here Whole Life Fitness, Personal Training for the over 50s. This will open a new browser window.

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What actually constitutes “moderate intensity exercise” ?

I had an email asking the following:

“What actually consitutes exercise as far as you are concerned? I feel the amount of movement I do must be sufficient, only thing I do not really do is stretch. I think a lot of my age group need to know does hoovering, weeding, ironing constitute exercise”

The writer of the email is 64, healthy and does a lot of gardening.

So, does she do enough?

Well the short answer is no. Thanks to inventions such as hoovers, modern irons, dishwashers and washing machines housework isn’t the heavy work that it used to be (the tedium hasn’t changed unfortunately). Whilst weeding is better for you than sitting down in front of the TV, it isn’t enough by itself.

The current recommendation is to do 150 minutes a week moderate intensity activity which you could break down into 30 minutes on 5 days of the week. That 30 minutes can be broken down into smaller 10 minute segments and this would still be beneficial.

The Chief Medical Officer’s (CMO) report , “At Least five a week”, published in April 2004 calculated the prevalence of activity and inactivity amongst older adults.

Gender & Age 30+ minutes of moderate intensity 5+ times a week Less than 30 minutes moderate activity per week
Male 55-64 32% 44%
Male 65-74 17% 52%
Female 55-64 21% 42%
Female 64-74 12% 61%

So what constitutes “moderate intensity activity”?
This is any activity that is vigorous enough to produce sweating, increase breathing and elevate the heart rate but during which you can still maintain a conversation. If you want a more measured calculation you need to aim to stay within a target heart rate zone that is 55 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate

So what should I be doing?
Well this will vary by person – for some a brisk walk will be enough to elevate the heart rate (as a rule for walking, if you can’t have a conversation you are going to fast, if you can sing a song you are going to slow).  Other ways of raising your heart rate would be swimming or cycling. If you don’t feel like leaving the house then you could use your stairs, set your time for 10 minutes and walk up and down them or just use the bottom step to do step-ups. You could always add a couple of cans of beans and do bicep curls at the same time.

How to do a step up with bicep curl

  1. Stand facing the step with cans held in hands, palms facing forwards.
  2. Keeping the left foot on the floor, step your right foot up onto the step making sure as much of the foot is on the step as possible.
  3. Keeping the right foot on the step, bring your left foot up next to it. As you step up curl your arms up so your hands meet your shoulders. Make sure you keep your elbows and upper arms by your side.
  4. Step back down, leading again with the right leg and bringing your left foot down to join it on the floor.  At the same time lower your  hands back to your sides.
Start off doing a minute leading with your right leg and then a minute leading with your left leg and work up to 10 minutes (5 minutes each leg leading). Don’t forget the bicep curls are optional and you should go at your own pace. If necessary use the banisters for balance.

So what about stretching?
As people age they can experience a decrease in the range of movement in a joint which can lead to problems with both posture and functional ability. Stretching should be done following any exercise when the muscles are warm but there is no reason why you should not do some form of stretching everyday. A simple stretching programme covering all main muscle groups should not take more than 5 minutes a day to achieve.

Moderate intensity exercise and stretching, what else?
Well if possible you should also try to include some muscle endurance and strength training, also referred to as resistance training.  You should aim to do some resistance exercises 2-3 times a week, examples of which can be found in the following articles:

However please remember all these recommendations are goals, they are not starting points and some weeks you have more time to exercise than others. If you are currently sedentary then start off with a walk to the shops or round the park, take it at your own pace and enjoy it. If you can find something you enjoy doing that you are more likely to continue that activity. Gradually you can add in other elements, such as a stretch when you get back from your walk.

I hope you have found this article informative. If you have any questions on this article, or any questions about exercise and the over-50s please post a comment. By subscribing to this blog you will be informed of any new articles. You will not receive any spam email.

For more information on Personal Training please go here Whole Life Fitness, Personal Training for the over 50s. This will open a new browser window.

New blog post coming soon about moderate intensity exercise.

Sorry I haven’t posted properly for 2 weeks.  I have had an email asking the following:

“What actually consitutes exercise as far as you are concerned? I feel the amount of movement I do must be sufficient, only thing I do not really do is stretch. I think a lot of my age group need to know does hoovering, weeding, ironing constitute exercise”

Therefore the topic of my next blog will be what counts as “moderate intensity exercise” that the NHS is recommending we do for 150 minutes a week.

I hope to post that by Monday, in the meantime have a lovely weekend and if you are free tomorrow (Friday) why don’t you come and join us for a new fitness class in Farnham Park. The weather is suppose to be sunny so great chance to get some fresh air and do some “moderate intensity exercise”.

If you have any questions on this article, or any questions about exercise and the over-50s please post a comment. By subscribing to this blog you will be informed of any new articles. You will not receive any spam email.

For more information on Personal Training please go here Whole Life Fitness, Personal Training for the over 50s This will open a new browser window.

New Exercise Class at Farnham Park exclusively for the over 50s

I am starting up a new exercise class to take place in beautiful Farnham Park, exclusively for the over 50s . The class will combine a brisk walk with some resistance work using dynabands or body weight.  A chance to get some fresh air, meet some new people and do some exercise.

This is a class for all levels of fitness – each exercise will have an adaptation for you.

  • Where: Meet in Farnham Park outside the cafe by Farnham Park Golf Club. Enter Farnham Park from Folly Hill (A287), car parking is free.
  • Date: Fridays at 11am
  • What to wear: Loose comfortable clothing with either trainers, plimsolls or soft soled shoes.
  • Cost: £5 per session per person

For more information please call 07785 747669 and ask for Helen. No need to book, just turn up and join us!

What will happen during the session?

Each session will consist of a warm-up, a main programme of cardiovascular and resistance work and a cool down period including stretches to ensure safe exercise and to avoid injuries. This class will last approximately one hour.

Why should I exercise?

According to NHS Online:

““Older adults should aim to be active daily”, a factsheet published by the Department of Health explains. “Over a week, activity should add up to at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity in bouts of 10 minutes or more” and  “older adults should minimise the amount of time spent being sedentary for extended periods.””

Done properly, safely, and consistently, exercise has been show to slow and even reverse age-related disease. A study of 3,000 people aged 70-80 entitled “Do muscle mass, muscle density, strength and physical function similarly influence risk of hospitilization in older adults?” found weak strength poor function and low muscle density were associated with a greater risk of hospitalisation.

There’s no joining fee or obligation to sign up for sessions, so come and join us on Friday. Looking forward to meeting you!

If you have any questions on this article, or any questions about exercise and the over-50s please post a comment. By subscribing to this blog you will be informed of any new articles. You will not receive any spam email.

For more information on Personal Training please go here Whole Life Fitness, Personal Training for the over 50s This will open a new browser window.

NHS Online – Alive and Kicking

An NHS article discussing why it is important to keep active later in life.

NHS Online  – Alive and Kickin

As this is a link it really should go under News but thanks to Grey Pride who bought it to my attention over Twitter I thought I would share it in a blog post. I am also interested in your views on why people over-50 don’t exercise as much as they should or could and ideas/suggestions on how this could be changed.

If you have any questions on this article, or any questions about exercise and the over-50s please post a comment. By subscribing to this blog you will be informed of any new articles. You will not receive any spam email.

For more information on Personal Training please go here Whole Life Fitness, Personal Training for the over 50s This will open a new browser window.

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