As you get older, your body changes, which means a workout that kept you fit as a fiddle in your younger years could actually do you more harm than good in your 40s and 50s.
So just what are the best exercises to keep you fit and healthy as you age?
Calum Wilson is the director of Limitless Health and Fitness, which specialises in women’s health and fitness — specifically pre and post-natal training. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with many women over the last six years who have had health complications such as lower back pain, incontinence and depression” he says. “All of these issues and more, I feel, can be helped if the right training and advice is given both during pregnancy and beyond.”
Here, he shares his best exercise routines for women at various stages of their life.
In your 30s: Squat and row
“The squat and row is a fantastic compound exercise that involves all the major muscle groups,” Calum explains. “It targets the back, core and legs and it is a great exercise for someone in their 30s, as it is a big calorie burner, helps with posture and encourages a good level of flexibility.”
How to do it:
Loop a cable or resistance band through a sturdy object (like a pole or fence post) at chest height. Hold each end with one hand and step back from the object until there’s no slack. Sit back into a squat position and as you do, allow your arms to extend in front of you so they’re straight, in line with your shoulders. As you stand up, pull your elbows back and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Do three sets of 15 reps.
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In your 40s: Turkish half get up
You need a dumbbell or a kettle bell to perform this exercise, which is effective for mums who need help strengthening their pelvic floor.
“The Turkish half get up is a fantastic exercise to increase mobility and strengthen rotational stability,” Calum says. “It targets the shoulder, core and the pelvic floor. The main benefits include core strength and stability, T-spine mobility, hip mobility, hip extension, strength shoulder stability and body awareness.”
How to do it:
Lie down next to your kettlebell. Pick it up with your left hand and hold it at your chest, then push towards the ceiling so your arm is vertical. Bend your left knee and support yourself with your right arm until you are in sitting position; all the while, your arm should remain straight and vertical, holding the kettlebell, and your eyes should be focused on the kettlebell. Keep your left foot and right arm on the ground and lift your hips and right leg off the ground. Hold for two seconds then fall back to the sitting position, then lie down again. Repeat the full exercise on the other size. Do three sets of 10 reps.
In your 50s: Glute bridge
A fantastic body weight exercise, the glute bridge can be practiced “anywhere, at any time,” Calum advises. “It strengthens the pelvic floor and core muscles and it’s perfect for woman in their 50s, as it does not put any stress through their knees or hips — but you can still gain muscle tone to the glutes and reduce the chances of incontinence.”
How to do it:
Lie on the ground facing the ceiling with your arms to the side, your knees bent and your heels on the ground. Lift your hips off the ground until your knees, hips and shoulders are in a straight line; from the side, your body shape will resemble a triangle. Hold for three seconds, return to the start position, then repeat. Do three sets of 15 reps.
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In your 60s: Bicep curl to shoulder press
“This exercise will help strengthen the upper body, mainly focusing on the biceps and shoulders as well as all the stabiliser muscles within the shoulder girdle,” Calum advises. “Osteoporosis is a big problem with females in their 60s and resistance weights have proven to help stop this from occurring.”
How to do it:
Stand normally with your arms at your sides and a dumbbell in each hand. Keep your elbows tucked in and your upper arms still as you rotate your forearms so that your palms face up as you curl the weights up toward your shoulders. Then, straighten your arms and press the weights straight upward toward the ceiling, rotating your forearms so your hands face forward. Reverse the motion to complete the rep. Do three sets of 10 reps on each arm.