Easy, Pain Free Exercises for Over 50s
They say you’re only as old as you feel.
If only your body knew that too right? A lot of us like to imagine that we’ll be in perfect health in old age, but that simply isn’t the case. Human muscles begin to weaken as early as in our 30s, which means we have less strength overall in later life. Not to mention other age-related illnesses you may suffer. Arthritis, Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure are pretty common, and conditions like heart and Alzheimer’s disease are on the rise.
Despite that, its never too late to start exercising and living a better lifestyle. Exercising in later life has already been proven to have astounding effects on your general health. Not only can it help prevent the impact of all the above illnesses, but it can also minimise the symptoms of many others. It can also help you remain independent, improve sleep quality and boost emotion wellbeing.
Sound good? Then get started with us as we introduce you to some easy, pain free exercises and workouts that will keep you healthy without putting too much strain on your body, especially if you’re already suffering from joint or back problems.
Warming Up and Cooling Down
For those who don’t know, warming up comprises of a few, low-effort exercises that stretch and warm the muscles to prepare them for the main workout while cooling down comprises of stretching poses that ease fatigue on the muscles afterwards.
It is important for everyone who exercises to do this, but especially so for anyone 50 years or older. Alongside preparing your muscles, warming up and cooling down also prepares the joints and back for a workout. So, if you have joint issues and you try to jump straight into your workout, you will cause yourself unnecessary pain as well as add to any pre-existing issues.
We recommend following the warm up and cool down routines discussed in our earlier blog: Quick Exercises For Busy People. They are low-impact and can be changed to suit your ability. So, with that explained and sorted, let’s get onto the workout.
When considering exercise later in life, it is important not to push yourself too hard. While a younger body can heal and work off an injury in no time flat, our healing factor weakens as we age, so if you were to sustain an injury, you’d need longer to heal and be exercising less. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t push yourself however. Start with exercises you enjoy then build up, the positive effects will come sooner than you think.
To start, here is our pick of the low-impact workouts perfect for getting you started while keeping you safe from any unnecessary joint, back or muscle injury:
Exercises for Older People: Balance (from nhs.uk)
Sideways Walking: Stand with your feet together with your knees slightly bent. Step sideways slowly and steadily with one leg then move the other to join it. Avoid dropping your hips as you do this a repeat 10 times stepping from one side to the other.
Simple Grapevine: Standing straight, cross your right foot over your left leg then bring the left foot to join it. Repeat five times then swap legs (left foot/right leg/right foot). Lean your fingertips against a wall if necessary and take small steps in order to better test and work on your balance.
Heel to Toe Walk: Remaining upright and place your right heel to your left toes, keeping your feet flat on the floor. Repeat with the opposite heel and toes (left to right). Do at least five of these while looking straight ahead at all times.
One Leg Stand: Stand straight with your arms outstretched, lean your fingertip against a wall if necessary. Lift your left leg bent at the knee, keeping your hips level and a slight bend in your right leg. Slowly place the foot back on the floor. Hold these lifts three times for 10 seconds, then swap legs.
Step Up: Use the bottom step of your stairs for this exercise. Step up with your right leg then bring up your left leg to join it. Reverse the movement and return to the start position. Do this up to five times with each leg, stepping up and down slowly and in a controlled manner.
Rest for 30 to 60 seconds and repeat the entire workout again as many times as you can manage.
This workout may seem very restrained, but we’ve put it here for a reason. If you’re struggling to balance due to a medical condition, then you may fall down and injury yourself doing more intense exercises. See how you do with these easy, pain free exercises first then move on to our next workout.
Must Do Strength Training Moves for Women (and Men) Over 50 (from verywellfit.com)
Forearm Plank: Lie on the floor with forearms flat to the floor with your elbows bent and in line with your shoulders. You can choose to keep on yours toes or place you knees to the ground. Raise your body, keeping your forearms still and your body straight. Hold for 30 seconds then release.
Modified Push-Up: Kneel down on all fours with hands directly below the shoulders and knees directly behind the hips, keeping your legs straight. Tuck in your toes and bend elbows to lower your chest towards the floor, keeping your eyes on your fingertips. Press back up and repeat 8-12 times.
Basic Squat: Stand up tall with your feet hip-width apart and everything facing forward. Bend your knees backwards and extend your buttocks backwards as if to sit down. Keep your knees behind your toes and your weight in your heels. Rise back up straight and repeat 8-12 times.
Shoulder Overhead Press: Have your feet hip-width apart and bring your elbows out to your sides, creating a “U” shape with your arms. Your dumbbells (or two full 500ml bottles of water) should be by the sides of your head. Press the dumbbells/bottles slowly up until your arms are straight then slowly and steadily return to the start position. Repeat 8-12 times from either a standing or seated position.
Single Leg Hamstring Bridge: Lie on your back with your knees bent hip-width apart and feet flat on the floor. Lift your left leg straight up into the air then take your hips off the floor to form a bridge. Lift and lower your hips for 8-12 repetitions then repeat with your right leg elevated.
Bird Dog: Kneel on all fours. Reach out straight with your right arm while also extending your left leg straight behind you. Repeat 8-12 times then switch to the left arm/right leg and start again.
Rest for 30 to 60 seconds and repeat the entire workout again as many times as you can manage.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you can only repeat the workout one or two times. Build up to making a full routine and add exercises as you see fit. It is more important that you enjoy the exercises so that you keep going, rather than just give up.
So that’s what you can do if you stay at home.
However, what if you want an extra challenge? Then you might be ready to take yourself to the gym. With your choice of machines and weights, as well as the room to do unassisted exercise, it’s a great option if you want to take improving your health to the next level.
If going to the gym sounds daunting, it is for many people no matter what age they are, but for over 50s there are some extra risks. Here is our, and Saga Magazine’s, guide on how to ease yourself into the gym and the kinds of routines that will keep you safe:
Have the Confidence – Going to the gym for the first time can be a difficult step to take, and that’s okay. It’s natural to feel a little overwhelmed but remember, the gym is there for anyone who needs it. Build up your confidence, tell yourself you deserve to be there and go. Once inside, supervisors are always on hand to teach you how to use the machines and you may be surprised by how many people are willing to give you tips and advice.
Bring a Buddy – Not compulsory, but still a good tip. By exercising with a friend, you keep each other motivated and you’re more likely to hit the gym more often. When you introduce your friend to your gym, they will usually have what is known as a “guest policy”, so be sure to read through the fine print to ensure that you’re both getting the best deal.
Start Slow – After remembering to do your warm ups, getting into a slow cardio-based exercise will help further prepare your body for the workout as well as burn some extra calories. Take to a mat or a cardio machine and work for up to 30 minutes, alternating between a relaxed pace, a burst of speed and a short rest. This can also give you an indication of how far you can push yourself during a session.
Choose Three Machines – During every gym session, choose whether you want to focus or your upper or lower body then choose three machines that work these areas. Do three sets of 10-12 repetitions, or 2-3 minutes of exercise if on a machine, with 30 second rests between sets. If you’re only just managing to complete the 11th/12th repetition or the last 10 seconds of exercise, then you’re successfully pushing muscles without risking an injury. All three machines should take 20 minutes to complete.
Use Weights and Mats Responsibly – You should spend another 20 minutes at the gym using the free weights or working on a mat, but irresponsible use of the equipment and poor training can cause some serious damage. Use the advice posters available and if you can, ask a member of staff to introduce you to some exercises. Get a feel for what you can manage and build yourself up. Aim for three sets of 10-12 repetitions but always remember to slow down if needed.
It’s all about balancing your needs with your ability.
So, with any luck, this guide has given you the tools you need to stay fit as you head towards retirement happy and motivated. However, it never hurts to have a plan in place for your loved ones should the inevitable happen sooner rather than later, which is where our Over 50s Cover comes in.
With us, you’re guaranteed to be accepted with no medical questions, your premiums will remain fixed for the rest of your life and as a bonus, if you sign up during January you will get three months gym membership absolutely free! If you’re interested, click on the button below for your free quote and come back next week when we’ll be sharing our favourite recipes for two that are healthy, nutritious and fun to cook together.