Stability when you are on your feet becomes more important as you get older. I recall seeing my father teetering backwards down our driveway and seeing the grazes on my mother’s face after she had taken a tumble on a pavement and telling myself “You are not going to follow a sedentary lifestyle if this is what happens”. Attending a gym is great fun, but there are many exercises you can follow without going anywhere.
- Muscle maintenance can be achieved using squats. Lower body strength can be promoted by squatting in front of a sturdy chair, holding on to the sides of the chair and slowly bending down to a sitting position. Make sure you do not extend your knees past your toes but hold the position for a few seconds before standing straight. Repeat in sets of ten, with a breather in between sets.
- Bicep curls with light weights. Hold the weights down at your sides with palms facing up and elbows tucked in, then bend the elbows to lift the weights towards your chest. If you hold the weights for a second, then lower the arms and use sets of ten, with a breather in between sets, you will retain your ability to do the daily lifting tasks easily.
- Push-ups will improve arms, chest and shoulders. Your back will need to stay straight, by balancing on your toes and hands below your chest. You could use a wall to begin with, by standing an arm’s length away, leaning towards the wall and pushing yourself away. Use sets of 10 repetitions with rest between each.
- Arm raises improve upper body strength. Raise light weights from shoulder height and straight arms to above your head, hold and lower again. Do two sets of 10 repetitions from a forward and side starting position, with rest in between.
- To improve balance and to strengthen hips, buttocks, thighs and lower back muscles, use leg raises. Stand behind a chair and hold on for better balance. For side leg raises, lift a leg out to the side, while keeping it straight, and with a straight back, then lower it. For back leg raises, do not bend the lifted leg or point the toes. Do two sets of 10 repetitions for each leg.
- A good balance exercise is a chair stand, where you start in a seated position, extend your arms parallel to the ground and slowly stand up, without support from your hands. Toe stands require you to stand behind the chair and repeatedly raise yourself onto your toes, holding the position for a moment before lowering again.
- To stretch your lower body, stand behind a chair, while holding on with the right hand. Bend your left leg behind you and grab your foot with the left hand. Keep the left leg perpendicular to the floor and stretch for around 30 seconds. Release and swap sides.
Make sure you do not exceed your target heart rate, which is 220 less your age, then multiplied by 70 percent. Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise and include warm-up and cool-down periods. Skip workouts if you are ill or over tired. Keep a level of exercise that retains your enthusiasm, because this has to be a lifestyle.