Health experts and the likes stress out the benefits of midlife exercises. Here, we have seven fun and healthy tips on how to stay physically active during your midlife.
Staying physically active while we are aging is crucial if we want to slow down the body aging process. There are some good news, though, as you don’t have to overexert yourself in order to stay fit and healthy.
Mo Hagan, a health and anti-aging expert from London, Ontario says that “movement and activity preserve youth.” “Physical activity helps to maintain a healthy metabolism at the cellular level. It helps to slow down the aging process and ward off the diseases attached to obesity — diabetes, heart disease, and many others. Plus, the hormonal changes that take place in an older woman will interfere with her ability to gain muscle, to sleep soundly, to have clear mindful focus. These things all decline with age. Physical activity will help correct all of that, as long as you are doing enough of the right thing on a regular basis consistently,” she adds.
Because of that, we have prepared some tips on how to stay active and slow down that aging process:
- Devote yourself to some walking program
Hagan starts up by pointing out that “everyone knows how to walk.” “You don’t need to have a gym membership or personal trainer. Just moving your body, using the larger muscles of your legs consistently, is a great start. I like to say that more is better than some, and some is better than none. You can start slowly and build your way up to five or six days a week,” she adds.
The world-famous distance swimmer Diana Nyad made a group called EverWalk with the goal of encouraging more than one million Americans to start being more active. EverWalk is set to launch an initiative with the name “The Hundred.” The participants of the initiative will pledge to walk at least 3.4 miles per day, on average, which brings it up to 100 miles per month. Nyad even started leading 10-mile walks every first Saturday of every month. “People say to me, ‘You want me to walk 10 miles? I can’t even walk down to get the newspaper!’" she says. “And I tell them, well today you are going to walk a half mile, and a month from now, you are going to walk two miles. It may sound like an unreachable dream, but before you know it, you’ll be walking the 10 miles with us.”
- Get acquainted with water Aerobics and water walking
People that take pleasure into visiting the pool will be pleased to find out that underwater movement is a great way to increase low-impact activities. “The pool is like a 360-degree weight room,” Hagan says. “The resistance of the water is something like 800 times the resistance of air, and it creates resistance no matter which way you move, push, or pull.” She also adds that water aids expanding joint base, which, in turn – will help avoid any stiffness you might have on land. “It also takes away the fear of falling while you are exercising,” she says. “It’s nearly impossible to slip and fall while walking in the pool,” she adds. If you are interested in taking up water aerobics classes, you can always contact your local YMCA, and find out what they have to offer.
- Boxing helps upper body strength and it’s a great way for weight management
Get yourself some boxing gloves and get rid of your batwings. Boxing is a type of high-intensity interval training, and is excellent for women that want to maintain their body weight and increase their body strength. “Most older women do not like the way their arms look,” says Hagan. “But when they box, and they can feel the strength in their upper body and arms, they become devoted to it, because they love the way it makes them look,” she adds. Since a lot of new boxing gyms have started opening up all over the country, more and more women have started going to these places, where they get professional training.
Jenaro Diaz, owner of Church Street Boxing Gym in New York City noted that “in the last five years, we’ve seen our female membership rise by over 50 percent.” “Not only is it younger women looking to compete, but you are seeing older women getting into the ring to spar with one another. These women are absolutely fearless. Once you have the courage to spar (in a controlled environment), you’ll have the courage to face almost anything in life,” she adds.
- Keep that muscle gain and protect your bones with some strength training
As we age, muscles get more important, and so, building muscles should get far more attention, especially during midlife. “With every decade of life, a woman can become weaker and weaker,” Hagan says. "When women lose muscle mass and gain body weight, it sets them up for all of the negative things that influence overall health.” According to her, if you want to keep doing the stuff you like, you should work to try and maintain the muscles you already have, at the very least. However, it is also important to try and get some more muscle as you age. “People can begin by doing simple exercises using their own body weight,” she states. “With the help of a trainer, you can then add resistance bands and dumbbells to help get even stronger.” Hagan recommends some basic strength exercises:
- Planks – Put your hands directly under the shoulders, like you’re about to do a push-up. Squeeze your glutes in order to stabilize your body, and choose a point on the floor about a foot away from your hands in order to neutralize the neck and spine. Keep this position for at least 20 seconds
- Pushups – Lie on the floor and place your hands just a bit wider than your shoulders. Balance your body by extending your legs and keep your body in a straight line. Before you start the push-ups, contract your abs and don’t forget to inhale and exhale as you do your push-ups
- Hip Bridges – First, sit on the floor and lie down with your back and feet soles touching the ground with your knees bent. After that, slowly lift your hips from the floor and draw in the navel until your back and upper legs are straight
- Squats – Sit on a chair and raise your body without the help of your hands or arms. Rinse and repeat
- Lunges – As you’re standing, take a step forward and drop your body until your knee bents at a 90-degree angle. Move back and repeat the same with your other leg
- Start practicing yoga
Putting strength and flexibility aside from the lest of benefits that yoga brings, according to Hagan, mindfulness is among the best benefits to yoga. “As women hit their forties and fifties, there is a big attraction of having a more mindful awareness of who they are and where they are,” Hagan says. “It’s about releasing the negative thoughts that hold you back from being authentically you, and showing up as someone confident and without fear. As your hormones change, you experience this racing feel — everything seems like it’s faster, faster, faster. Your heart races and you feel a bit out of control. It’s really important to know how to breathe slowly and deeply center yourself, to bring yourself back to that grounding, so that you can resume where you are in your day and feel in control. Practicing yoga can help bring you that mindfulness each day.”
If you’re interested in taking up yoga, you can turn to Yoga Finder and find the closest yoga studio.
- Get on the golf course
The general perception of golf as a man’s game is totally incorrect. According to Hagan, “women can easily outplay men on the golf course in their fifties and sixties if they maintain their strength and flexibility.” This sport is a combination of strength and flexibility, leg strength, as well as the calmness of the mind that comes with it. “You can golf well into the later years of your life,” adds Hagan.
If you want to start practicing golf, head out to GolfLink and find the closest golf course to you.
- Start boogying
Hagan has noticed a rather big increase of women that started taking dance classes with the rise of TV shows like So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With the Stars. “Dancing is one of the most fun ways you can continue to be active,” she said. “Not only is it a great way to stay fit, but it provides the social support that so many people need, and you can do it anywhere.”
There is more to dancing to just burning calories. A study that was published in December 2018 in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, unearthed evidence that dancing could help senior women in maintaining their capability of performing daily tasks. While a clear link couldn’t be found between dancing and reduced risk of disabilities related to ADL (activities of daily life), the authors of the study pointed out the many factors that dancing requires. Balance, strength, and endurance aside, dancers need heightened cognitive abilities, adaptability and concentration in order to follow the music and their partners, as well as the art of making graceful and fluid motions, in addition to memory capabilities for choreography.
USA Dance has dance studios all over the U.S., and they can help you get your groove on, should you decide to take on dancing.
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