As unfortunate as it is, ageing in the literal sense is unavoidable. As each birthday comes around, we are going to get one year older – this is something that we certainly can’t change.
But that doesn’t mean we have to feel older.
As we age it can become increasingly easy to get into a daily routine of sedentary activity.
We find ourselves struggling to keep up with the household chores, seeing noticeable declines in physical function, all while descending into a nasty spiral where we don’t feel particularly good on a day to day basis, and have very little energy.
But this doesn’t have to be the case.
And the answer lies with exercise.
Exercise was once thought to demonstrate its greater benefits in changing our appearance – namely helping us lose a little fat and build a little muscle – but we now know that this is no longer the case.
No don’t get me wrong – exercise indeed can change how we look – but it can also do so much more than that.
Regular exercise has been shown to greatly improve our physical health, reducing our risk of developing cardiovascular and metabolic diseases (such as diabetes and obesity) significantly.
This can come with improvements in muscular strength and bone mineral density, which can improve our ability to function on a day to day basis, while simultaneously reducing our risk of developing osteoporosis.
Finally exercise has been shown to cause a large increase in our mental health. The performance of exercise has been shown to improve mood and increase mental energy, while also reducing sensations of depression and anxiety.
It is the literal fountain of youth.
Now, in saying this, some exercises certainly offer us more bang for our buck than others.
With this in mind, I have outlined five of my favorite exercises that offer an excellent way to improve health for women specifically.
It is important to note that these exercises can easily be performed at home (using household items for resistance if necessary), making them extremely accessible and efficient.
1. Goblet Squat
The goblet squat is a fantastic exercise that strengthens the muscles of both the core and the lower body.
Differing from a normal squat, a weight is held in front of the body. This forces the abdominal muscles to work overtime to keep a nice neutral spinal position, offering a great means to maximize the development of core muscle strength.
Additionally, as we are loading the muscles of the lower body, this exercise offers a great way to build lower body strength. This greatly improves our ability to function on a day to day basis, making general tasks much easier. As an added bonus, this is going to also stimulate the development of new bone cells, causing an increase in our bone mineral density.
As an added bonus, this is going to also stimulate the development of new bone cells, causing an increase in our bone mineral density, staving off osteoporosis.
2. Bench Push Up
Despite being an exercise that was traditionally considered be quite masculine in nature, push up variations can be one of the most valuable exercises in our toolbox. Improving our chest muscle while helping to tone our upper arms.
A bench push up is exactly like a normal push up performed on your toes, but your hands are going to be elevated (any piece of furniture will do) to make it slightly easier.
From here the movement is performed just like a normal push up, slowly controlling your descent until your chest touches the bench, where you simply push yourself back up into the starting position. In an ideal scenario we would like the hands directly below the shoulders, and the elbows to lock out completely in the top position.
This particular movement offers a fantastic way to build up our upper body strength and muscle mass. As such can greatly improve our ability to perform upper body dominant tasks (such as carrying moving furniture), while helping us get rid of those tuck shop arms.
3. Split Squat
The split squat is very similar to our goblet squat in that it strengthens the muscles of the lower body, but it differs somewhat in our positioning.
We want a split stance where our legs are approximately 2-3 feet apart, and we are loading predominantly through our front leg (the back leg is strictly helping us out for balance). This increases the stability demand placed on the front leg, making the split squat one of the most effective exercises to improve single leg strength and stability.
The trick with this one is to keep the chest up tall and load through the heel of the front foot. Control the descent and drive back up into the starting position by pushing your front heel into the ground.
You are more than welcome to start by holding something to help with balance in the early stages, before progressing to a completely unassisted movement.
As an added bonus, the split squat has excellent carry over to tasks of daily living (such as climbing stairs, hiking, and getting up from the ground), making it one of the most useful exercises to maintaining strength and function as we enter the later stages of life.
4. Plank Hold
Now a plank hold is one of those movements that everyone recognizes when they see it, but don’t always perform it particularly well. With this in mind, the trick is to set up with your elbows directly below your shoulders and then get up on your toes.
Squeeze your bum as hard as you can and really focus on bracing your abs HARD – this will ensure all the muscle around the hips and core are working correctly.
This offers an ideal way to improve core strength, which can protect the spine from injury while improving function on a day to day basis.
5. Brisk Walking
Some people have a misconception that walking isn’t great because it’s not hard enough…
Well I would beg to differ.
Walking is an easy way to get our heart rate up without placing any undue load through our joints. This makes it one of the safest ways to improve our cardiovascular fitness and improve the health of our heart.
This is going too greatly reduce our risk of developing various diseases and illnesses, while also helping us burn any unwanted fat. In short it is one of the best exercise modalities we can choose to do.
Putting it all together
Now all these exercises can be put together into a simple home program that can be performed 3 times per week. It shouldn’t take any more than hour, and offers an excellent way to get you feeling better and healthier.
1. Goblet Squat 3 sets of 15 reps
2. Bench Push Up 3 sets of 15 reps
3. Split Squat 3 sets of 10 reps per side
4. Plank Hold 3 sets of 30 seconds
5. Brisk Walk 30 minutes
Getting older is unavoidable, but feeling older isn’t.
Exercise is so much more than just a means to get us looking better- partaking in regular exercise we can cause huge improvements in muscle strength, heart health, cardiovascular fitness, energy levels, and mental health. With this in mind, some form of exercises are better than others.
By integrating strength exercises with aerobic activity we can get the best of both worlds, causing huge improvement in our fitness and how we feel each and every day.
Give the program outlined within this article a try and get back to us – we would love to hear how it goes!
I’d like to thank Annette Spanski the Editor of Keep Life Simple for the opportunity to let me publish a guest post on her blog, and I hope that the readers from www.keeplifesimple.com.au enjoy my post.
Demmy James | Content Contributor
Muscle & Strength
Inspire. Educate. Motivate.™
Cathy 51 and Annette Spanski 52 @annettespanskihealthandfitness