63-Year-Old Woman Powerlifter Takes Home Gold at First Competition

I LOVE this, more proof it’s never to late to change your health, to become a stronger you.

Full article here

Badass 63-Year-Old Woman Powerlifter Takes Home Gold at First Competition

Why it’s never too late to pick up a weight

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 in the Farnham area, please go here Whole Life Fitness, Personal Training for the over 50s. This will open a new browser window.

Another quadricep exercise if you have arthritis.

The most common search term that lands a person at my blog usually incorporates the words quadricep exercise and arthritis.  I have already covered the topic here  but I thought I would explain another exercise that you can do to strengthen your quadriceps if you have arthritis in your knees.

This is not only for those with arthritis, if you still find wall squats difficult for any reason then this might be a good substitute.  This exercise does need a piece of equipment, a resistance band. Now you can get various different types of resistance bands, if you have any problems with your wrists I recommend you get ones with a handle.

Here are some examples of what you could use (not price checked)  Fitness-MAD studio Pro Safety Resistance Tube  or Perfect Fitess Resistance Band system  or USA Pro Body Bands (no handles).

As this exercise is for a large muscle group I recommend you get one of the heavier resistance bands.

I will be doing some more articles using resistance bands as they really are perfect for throwing in your bag and taking with you for a walk around the park.

Leg Press using resistance band

  1. Sit on a bench/chair, bend your left knee, and lift your foot from the ground. You can lean back slightly during the exercise but be careful that your don’t slump with rounded shoulders.
  2. Wrap the center of the resistance band around your left foot and hold both ends of the band in your hands.  Your hands should be  either side of your body at about waist level. Your toes should be pointed down at a slight angle.
  3.  Pushing out  with your foot straighten your  left leg out in front of your body and stop just before locking your knee.
  4. Bend your knee slowly to return slowly to your starting position.
  5. Do 5 repetitions and change leg.

Remember to do this exercise slowly to get the full benefit, there should always be tension in the band.

Once you are comfortable doing 5 repetitions on each leg then increase the number of repetitions you do.

Before starting any new exercise program please check with your doctor and clear any exercise changes with them.

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.

Adding weight to your workout – Part 2 – The Squat

I am going to nominate the squat as one of the most important exercises you can do whether its the wall slide, body weight squat or squat with added weight. To prove how important it is one of the most oft used phrases when teaching the squat is “pretend you are sitting down in a chair”. Yes being able to squat means you will continue to be able to sit down and stand up safely without using your arms (or the chair arms) for assistance. Stronger legs means better balance, so less likely to fall. They also reduce your risk of lower back and knee pain, improve mobility  and of course who doesn’t want a bottom that fills out their trousers.

Beginner – Walls slide  (also good for those with arthritis in the knee)

  1. Stand against a wall with your back touching it. Your feet should be shoulder width apart.
  2. Begin by slowly sliding down the wall, maintaining contact, until you are in seated position.  Your  hips and knees should both  be at 90-degrees, your back flat against the wall, your heels  on the ground and your knee joint should be directly above your ankle joint.

Do not worry if you can not get this far down to start with, just slide down the wall to a position comfortable for you.

3.  Slowly push with the legs, weight going thru the heels and slide up the wall to return to starting position.

Start by doing this 3 times a day, to increase the difficulty of this exercise then when you are in the seated position hold for 5 seconds before sliding back up the wall.

Intermediate – Body weight squat to chair

When you first try these place a chair behind you, it will help you visualise what you are suppose to be doing. If necessary actually sit in the chair when you lower yourself.

  1. Stand with feet slightly more than shoulder width apart with toes turned out at a slight angle.
  2. Push back your hips as if you were going to sit in the chair, think about reaching back with your bottom attempting to touch the chair . Whilst you are doing this you need to remember
  • Do not round your back
  • Keep chest up
  • Your knees should track over your toes i.e. you should be pushing your knees out, they shouldn’t be collapsing inwards.
  • Keep weight toward the heels, you should be able to wiggle your toes.
  • Eyes looking foward, your chin should be parallel with the floor

3.  The position you are going down to is just below parallel for your thighs, where your bottom drops below your knees BUT this is a position you are working towards, when you start just go down as far as it feels comfortable. At this point your form is more important than your range of movement.

4. Keeping the weight in your heels, slowly push your body back up.

5. Start with 3 repetitions and work up to 10.

So 2 exercises the press up and squat, both movements which use lots of muscles but no equipment! The next post will be covering a back exercise, as we age it’s actually important that we strengthen the back to help prevent the hunching that can occur as we age for now – as you are probably reading this on a PC or laptop –  I will just say sit up straight!

Before starting any new exercise program please check with your doctor and clear any exercise changes with them.

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

Helen Witcomb runs Whole Life Fitness which is a personal training company which specialises in the over 50s. For more information please visit Whole Life Fitness or call 01252313578.

Balance and strength training ‘help prevent falls’

A study published recently in the Britsh Medical Journal has shown that integrating balance and strength exercises into daily life can significantly reduce the risk of a repeat fall. The study was conducted on people 70 years or older, living in the community and having two or more falls, or one injurious fall, in the past year.

There were 3 groups, a control group, a group engaged in structured exercise using weighted ankle cuffs and a group assigned a  Lifestyle integrated Functional Exercise (LiFE) programme designed by the University of Sydney. This programme  involved embedding balance and lower limb strength training into daily routines, such as walking, stepping over objects and moving from sitting to standing.

The study, conducted over a year,  found a significant (31%) reduction in the rate of falls for participants in the LiFE programme compared with the control group. The overall incidence of falls in the LiFE programme was 1.66 per person years, compared with 1.90 in the structured programme and 2.28 in the control group.  There was a non-significant reduction in the rate of falls for participants in the structured programme compared to the control group.

In New South Wales a report puts the amount of older adults doing strength training at less than 10%.  I was not able to find a  figure for the UK  but the fact is that only 8% currently go to the gym regularly  and only 17% of men and 12% of women in the 65-74 age bracket are reaching recommended levels of exercise a week (taken from the 204 Chief Medical Offices Report).

The 2011 Chief Medical Officers report, Start Active, Stay Active  gives the following recommendations for strength training:

  • Older adults should also undertake physical activity to improve muscle strength on at least two days a week.
  • Older adults at risk of falls should incorporate physical activity to improve balance and co-ordination on at least two days a week.

The study also suggested that exercise incorporated into every day life resulted to greater adherence to the  programme.

As well as helping reduce the risk of falls there are  many other benefits of strength training for older adults,

For more information about the report please click  here which will take you the the BMJ.

I run a small exercise group in Farnham in the beautiful Farnham Park which combines a brisk walk with strength training. It caters to all levels of fitness and it is always lovely to see new faces.

Before starting any new exercise program please check with your doctor and clear any exercise changes with them.

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

Helen Witcomb runs Whole Life Fitness which is a personal training company which specialises in the over 50s. For more information please visit Whole Life Fitness or call 01252313578.

Resistance exercises using body weight – no equipment required!

Following on from last weeks blog about the benefits of resistance exercise I thought I would talk about 4 exercises you could do at home 2 lower body and 2 upper body.  All are using your own body weight so no equipment needed – just 15 minutes of your time.

Firstly have a 5 minute warm up, this could be

  • walking around your garden
  • going up and down the stairs
  • marching on the spot

Try and get your arms involved as well, maybe by doing some bicep curls bringing your hands up to touch your shoulders and then back down to your sides. The idea is to get your heart rate up and get the blood flow going to your muscles. It can also serve to clear your mind and get you in the mood to do some exercise.

The usual thinking is to have stretches between warm up and main exercise programme however this is now being challenged with little evidence that static stretching prevents injury or subsequent muscle soreness[i].  Once you are warm I would prefer to go straight into the session rather than risk you cooling down.  We will do a few stretches at the end.

Step Ups

Step ups are a great functional exercise, most of us climb stairs everyday. The exercise will work your bottom, hamstrings, quadriceps and also your calves.

  1. Find a step, preferably one next to something you can use for balance if needed (e.g. a banister or a wall)
  2. Leading with your left foot step up making sure your whole foot is on the step.  Keeping the left foot on the step, step your right foot up onto the step. Both feet are now on the step.
  3.  Step back down, leading again with the left leg and bringing your right foot down to join it on the floor.
  4. Do 10 steps leading with your left leg and then ten leading with your right. You should be trying to work up to 1 minute on each leg.

This exercise is also great for getting your heart rate up.

Wall slides

  1. Stand upright with your back against a wall, feet shoulder-width apart
  2. Walk feet 12 inches from the wall
  3. Slowly bend your knees, sliding your back down the wall for a count of five until your knees are bent at a 45-degree angle. Do not worry if you can not reach a 45-degree angle, go down as far as is comfortable for you. You should not be in any pain.
  4. Hold this position for 5 seconds
  5. Begin straightening your knees for a count of five, sliding up the wall until you are fully upright with knees straight

Repeat this 5 times.

Wall push up

This  exercise will work your chest shoulders and triceps and is excellent if you want to strengthen the chest muscles but have back problems.

  1. Stand facing a wall roughly 1 metre away. Place hands on the wall at chest height and shoulder width apart with fingers pointing to the ceiling, there should be a slight bend in the elbow.
  2. Bend your arms (whilst inhaling) and your body will lean towards the wall, you should be aiming to get a 90 degree bend at the elbow but don’t worry it you can’t do this at first just lower yourself as far as it feels comfortable.
  3. Push off the wall (whilst exhaling) until your arms are back in the starting position with elbows slightly bent.

Repeat 10 times.

Standing Wall angel

Poor posture can lead to all sorts of problems and this back strengthening/shoulder mobility exercise can help prevent that.

  1. Stand flat up against a wall with your back to the wall and feet about shoulder-width apart.
  2. Press the small of your back into the wall and bend your arms to that the backs of your arms and hands are pressed against the wall at a 90-degree angle to your body.  If you can’t get your arms against the wall do not arch your back just take elbows back until you feel a stretch.
  3. Move your arms up the wall, keeping your wrists and elbows pressed against the wall (if you can). You are aiming to get the hands together above the head, but again don’t worry if this isn’t possible yet just do the range of movement you are capable of.
  4. Lower hands to the starting position.

Repeat 10 times.

If you feel any pain or dizziness during these exercises then please stop.

Stretching is important as research has shown flexibility declines 20-50% between the ages of 30 and 70 years. It deserves (and will get) a blog post to itself, for now here are 4 stretches that you should do after performing the above exercises.

Quadricep stretch

  1. Stand with your feet hip width apart and knees slightly bent
  2. Bend knee and grab the front of the ankle and pull the foot towards the bottom until a stretch is felt in the front thigh.
  3. Hold for 10-15 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. Lean forward from waist keeping back straight.
  3. Hold for 10-15 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 10-15 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 by easing the shoulder blades apart and lower the chin slightly.
  5. Hold for 10-15 seconds and release.

All done!

If you have any questions on this article, or any questions about exercise and the over-50s please post a comment.

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.

The Importance Of Exercise As We Age

The World Health Organisation identifies 50 years of age as the point in middle age at which engaging in regular physical exercise can prevent or delay the onset of many of the physical, psychological and social hazards that are associated with increasing age[1]. These hazards include heart disease, arthritis, osteoporosis, and obesity. Physical activity is beneficial for maintaining health as we age and thereby enhancing quality of life.

As your body ages the following changes take place –

  • Muscle mass declines, which affects the ability to pick up and carry heavy objects or even shopping.
  • Bone mineral density decreases, therefore the skeleton can become brittle and bones are more likely to fracture. One in two women and one in five men over the age of 50 in the UK will fracture a bone, mainly as a result of osteoporosis[2].
  • VO2 max (the body’s ability to utilise oxygen) declines with both age and under use and this can bring about functional limitations such as reducing the ability to walk for long periods of time.
  • Decrease in the basal metabolic rate, which are the calories needed for daily activity. This can lead to increases in body fat.
However regular, targeted physical exercise can countermand all these changes as it makes your bones and muscles stronger. When your muscles are strong, you’re less likely to fall. If you do fall, strong bones are less likely to break. Studies have shown that is a combination of cardiovascular work and strength training that produces the best results with an increase of lean mass and reduction in body fat in older adults.
In addition to the physical benefits studies have also shown that regular physical activity is good for your brain [3] and is also associated with a reduced risk of developing depressive symptoms; regular brisk walking could improve learning ability, concentration, and abstract reasoning.
The Chief Medical Officer’s current recommendation is that 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise be taken at least 5 times a week. This could be brisk walking, cycling or swimming. In addition muscular strength and endurance exercises that involve all major muscle groups should be done on up to 4 days per week. These guidelines are targets rather than a starting point for exercise and the types of exercise should depend on an individual’s abilities.
50 and older is a great time to start a daily exercise routine. The immediate benefits of exercise include relaxation, stress and anxiety reduction, and enhanced mood.
Long-term benefits include
  • weight loss
  • increased strength
  • balance increases
  • improved mental health
  • motor control benefits

These all lead to an increase in the overall quality of life. Whole Life Fitness can help you include exercise into your daily routine so you can continue to do the things you enjoy and stay independent as you age. However if you don’t live near Farnham then please feel free to leave a comment/question and I will do my best to answer.

Whole Life Fitness, Personal Training for the over-50s

[1] The Heidelberg guidelines for promoting physical activity among older persons (www.who.int/hpr/ageing/heidelberg_eng.pdf). Geneva, World Health Organization,
1996.

[2] Figure from National Osteoporosis Society.

[3] Physical activity and risk of cognitive impairment and dementia in elderly persons

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