What builds confidence, stability, energy, bone density and balance? And also improves the way you control chronic pain, depression and blood sugar? What can help you maintain your independence and even spark the production of new cells to improve brain function?
If you’re feeling as though your get up and go just got up and left, this is for you! Building muscle strength and developing a strong grip can reintroduce some vim, vigour and vitality back into your day-to-day. Better yet, there’s no need for specialist equipment or hours spent at the gym. You can develop functional strength easily at home.
Tips to get started
Check with your GP if you have a health condition to make sure the activities described below are suitable for you. Start gently with no weight, small weights or a light band only. Begin with just a few moves before building up your routine slowly. Take your time. It’s better to do one slow movement well than many with poor form. Warm up and cool down by marching on the spot (or up and down the garden) and swinging your arms. Remember, there’s no need to compare what you do with anyone else.
We tend to lose muscle strength as we age, but research shows that it’s possible to halt or even reverse this loss with consistent strength training.
Body weight exercises
Getting up and down from a chair without using your hands is a kind of squat. Work up to bending your knees and hovering above your seat without sitting down.
Step forward and bend both knees. You can do the same move, but stepping behind you instead.
You can do this simple move by placing your hands on the wall, on the kitchen counter, on a stable and supported chair seat or by kneeling on all fours.
Step up and down on the bottom step of your staircase – right up, left up, right down, left down. Then left up, right up, left down, right down. If you feel stable enough, try doing this exercise without touching the handrail. For a gentler option, sit on a chair with a book on the floor in front of you and tap each foot in turn to the top of the book.
Exercises with weights
If you’d prefer not to buy weights, you can rummage in the store cupboard for alternatives, like tins of sweetcorn, or use small plastic bottles filled with water or sand. You can also make these moves without weights.
Hold your arm by your side with the palm facing out. Move your hand towards your shoulder by bending your elbow, then back down.
Arms out to the sides
Hold your arm by your side with the palm facing your body. Lift your arm out to the side until it’s in line with your shoulders and then slowly lower it back down.
Raise the roof
Bend your elbows to bring your hands up to your shoulders. Push your hands up towards the ceiling and slowly bring them back down.
Build healthy habits
We all know that we need to eat well, move more and get the rest we need to stay fit and healthy, no matter our age. But knowing what to do is the easy part. It’s the how that’s trickier. Discover how to make simple healthy habits part of your daily routine.