It's essential to make a conscious effort to stay fit and mobile once you're 50 and over, so Damart has put together a handy guide full of advice about exercise, maintaining mobility, what to wear whilst you work out, and healthy eating.
Fitness and exercise reference guide
These simple and light exercises can be done on a daily basis to make sure you stretch and work your muscles.
Do three sets of ten on each of the exercises below, except downward dog and wall sit, which you can just hold in position for ten seconds at a time.
WHAT: The downward dog is a classic yoga movement that stretches out the whole body and in particular, strengthens the arms and legs.
HOW: Position yourself on all fours and push your bum into the air so your legs are straight and your arms are helping to hold your body up (directly beneath your shoulders for maximum support).
WHAT: Leg raises are a simple exercise that will help you maintain mobility whilst working the lower ab muscles and hip flexors.
HOW:Lie down on a mat, and place both hands beneath your bum for leverage and to support your back. Raise one leg at a time, making sure you keep it straight. To make it a bit harder, raise both legs at the same time and slowly lower.
WHAT: Squats are a fantastic all over body workout, and you don't need any additional equipment to do them. Squats also provide a quick and easy way to build up strength and muscle.
HOW: To squat, place your feet shoulder width apart and turn your feet out slightly (around 30 degrees). Bend your hips and knees (pointed outwards) and keep your lower back neutral. Squat down as far as you can go (the lower down, the better) and squat back up, making sure you lock your hips and knees.
WHAT: Bicep curls solely target the bicep muscles, but they are a great weight training exercise to keep your arms mobile and retain/build strength in your arms. You can buy some light dumbbells and practice these in the comfort of your own home or at the gym.
HOW: Roll your shoulders back slightly, and stand up straight with a dumbbell in each hand (start small and light and build up the weight over a few weeks or months). Moving your lower arms only, curl the weights up towards your chest and slowly lower. Make sure it's a controlled movement, and that your arms aren't flopping down after a rep.
WHAT: The overhead press is another full body workout. Ideally, you can use some small dumbbells to make the exercise a little more challenging.
HOW: Holding a weight in each hand, press them over your head until you lock your elbows, and slowly control the weights back down so your arms are bent at 90 degrees.
WHAT: A jumping jack is an old-school exercise that works the body all over. It's a much more exciting way to do cardio, and a far cry from pounding the treadmill at the gym whilst staring into space.
HOW:Stand still with your arms at your side, and jump so your legs are split and pointing outwards, whilst raising your arms to the side of you as high as you can.
WHAT: A half plank is an easier beginner's version of the full plank and it's a great way to engage your core muscles, which in turn help to support your back and wider body.
HOW: Make sure you use a mat so there's no unnecessary pressure on your knees, and kneel on the matt, with your lower arms on the floor. You can clench both hands together for leverage too. Hold the half plank for 10 seconds or longer (depending on your strength and ability).
WHAT: Wall sits are another all-muscle exercise, and you can really feel the burn with this one.
HOW:Choose an empty wall, and sit against it with your knees at 90 degrees. Hold for ten seconds and repeat. Remember, you can always make any of the exercises above more difficult by using heavier weights, or increasing the amount of repetitions you do.
Nordic walking is beginning to really take off in countries all over the world, and is especially popular in the UK. Nordic walkers use poles to make sure that the upper body gets just as much work as the legs, and the poles also give additional support and help propel the walker along. It's great news for those of you that want to ease your way back into exercise after a long time off, or an operation that requires you to slowly build up your stamina and strength.
Working out in water is a low-impact activity that is on the rise for those that want to avoid extra stress or pressure on their body. The main benefits of aqua aerobics are that water supports the body and provides resistance and the pressure helps pump blood around the body. Some aqua aerobics classes focus on bodyweight, whilst others use specialist dumbbells, kickboards and hydro discs. Find out more about Aqua Aerobics here.
Tai chi originates from thirteenth century Chinese martial arts, but has slowly caught on in many other areas of the world. You should be able to find a fairly local tai chi class near you by looking in the internet or yellow pages. Tai chi is widely known for its health benefits, and helps to reduce stress, improve balance and increase strength and mobility. There's also speculation that tai chi can help improve arthritis symptoms.
Mobility and recovery times slow down significantly as you get older, so it's important to keep up momentum when it comes to stretching and exercising. The best thing to do is work on increasing circulation and loosening up your muscles.
As you get older, illness and medical conditions can make it much harder for your body to pump blood around. This can lead to swelling and cramping if it's left unresolved. A good way to increase and improve your circulation is by applying ice or heat to inflamed muscles. Booking a professional massage is another quick-fix way to heal sore muscles. Massage therapy helps to reduce stress and strain on the muscles and promote general relaxation. Stretching each muscle group on a daily basis is a simple way to help with your circulation, and can easily be done at home.
Keep track of your activity
A good way to challenge yourself and measure improvement is to keep track of your fitness. Relatively new to the market, Fit Bits are a similar design to watches and can be worn around your wrist. They cleverly track your heartbeat and workouts and keep record of how far you've travelled. Some of the products give a detailed summary of your workout, and some even come with features such as an alarm clock or integrated Wi-Fi.
Loosen up aching muscles
Foam rollers are great to assist with stretching, and to target specific muscle pain, by rolling the affected area on the roller. It's similar to a massage, but much less intense and a lot cheaper. All you need is an exercise mat and a foam roller. You can purchase both of these things at most sport stores. Note: please consult your doctor for specific advice on pre and post operation exercises. Instructions will vary significantly depending on the type of operation, and other factors such as age and strength.
Sportswear to suit your workout
It's quite common for some of us get stuck with what to wear to the gym, sometimes even to the point where it's a good enough reason not to go. The Damart thermal range proves that you can dress practically and stylishly so you feel confident in yourself whilst exercising.
Damart has over 60 years of experience in the thermals market, and the brand has given a nod towards modernistic and comfortable style with its latest Thermolactyl technology. Damart's thermal options are graded according to how much warmth they give, and you can choose which level is right for you based on the activity you'll be doing on our online guide.
It's completely understandable that some people don't really like the atmosphere of the gym, and feel slightly too intimidated to train in busy public places. It's an easy enough problem to solve though. The best thing to do is to buy a few pieces of fitness equipment (all with different purposes) and set aside a clear area where you can work out at home.
A set of dumbbells is an excellent piece of equipment for practising overhead lifting. You can even lie down and do dumbbell exercises from the comfort of an exercise mat. This is especially useful for those that find it difficult to stand for extended periods of time. Depending on your strength, anything between a 1kg and 5kg dumbbell should be ideal. You can test them out in sports stores to find out which weight works best for you.
A yoga mat is an essential item for a lot of home workouts, and ensures that hard flooring doesn't dig in to your back. For any activity where you need to sit or lie on the floor such as sit-ups or leg raises, you should really use a mat to provide a bit of extra cushioning and comfort. Exercise mats are the perfect accompaniment for yoga and Pilates too.
A kettlebell is a handy little piece of equipment to have to help you get the most out of your workout. First of all, master your squats and deadlifts and once you feel confident doing some basic exercises using solely bodyweight, you can gradually add in a one or two kg kettlebell to make things harder.
Exercise balls are the perfect support to assist weighted workouts, or to use purely bodyweight. Some people find it difficult to lower themselves right to the ground, so you can use an exercise ball to do activities, such as the plank, crunches, pectoral flies and leg extension.
Resistance bands have a similar effect as individual weights, but you can have bands which are different thicknesses, depending on how hard you want to make a specific exercise. The thicker the band, the more resistance it will give you. Try Damart's sit and stretch exerciser with adaptable resistance to tone your arms, legs and shoulders.
Mini pedal exerciser
The mini pedal exerciser is an in-house piece of cardio equipment, that's relatively low cost, and small enough to store away beneath a table or sofa. This mini pedal exerciser from Damart is only £22.00. Use the stepper to train your lower body, and the elastic ropes to train your arms and upper body. As long as you don't mind a bit of multitasking, bicep curls are a simple move that can be done using the stepper and ropes simultaneously.
Exercise isn't the only way to improve how you feel and look; healthy eating and a balanced diet are equally as important.
Use this helpful guide to check whether you're getting as many calories as your body needs, based on how physically active you are:
Females over 50
• Not active - 1600 calories daily
• Partially active -1800 calories daily
• Very active - 2000 calories daily
Males over 50
• Not active - 2000 calories daily
• Partially active - 2200-2400 calories daily
• Very active - 2400-2800 calories daily