Middle Age Health and Fitness – An Exercise Program for a Shy Beginner (part 2)

In my previous posting (Click HERE to read the introduction to “Exercise for a Shy Beginner”) I tabled a checklist for a beginner wanting to start an exercise program. I will now get down to specifics and give an example of a beginner’s aerobic and strength training program. There is no need to go out and buy any expensive gym equipment and all the exercises in these workouts can be done in and around your place of residence.

It is important to exercise most days of the week and to start off with a light schedule and slowly increase the workload. All exercise sessions should consist of 3 stages; warm-up, training period and cool-down.Middle Age Health and Fitness

1. Aerobic

When initiating a totally new aerobic program it is advisable to choose an activity that you enjoy. Walking is generally a good option as it can be done anywhere and does not need any special equipment. Key points:

a. Warm-up for 5 minutes by moving along at your normal walking pace.

b. Speed up to a level that is just above comfortable and continue at that pace.

c. Maintain the comfortable pace for an initial period of 20 minutes and then, over time, gradually increase this to between 30 and 45 minutes.

d. Finish the workout with a cool-down of between 5 and 10 minutes. This will consist of slowing down back to normal walking pace for 3 to 5 minutes and some static muscle stretches.

e. Static stretches should include a hamstring (touch your toes), calf (heel raises) and quadriceps (front of thigh) stretch.

f. Repeat this aerobic workout 2 to 4 times a week.

2. Strength/Resistance Training

Middle Age Health and FitnessThe following strength training program does not need specialized gym equipment and comprises of own body weight resistance exercises and the use of objects commonly found around the house. As always you should start with a 5 to 7 minute warm-up routine which will include up to 4 minutes of cardio and a few stretches. Conclude the warm-up with 2 sets of 10 incline wall push ups (per figure 1).

Good form and technique are vital with resistance exercise. Ensure that you breathe during each repetition and that each one is done slowly. Core muscles should be engaged and your back should be erect and straight.Middle Age Health and Fitness

i. Kneeling push-up – Chest and Triceps (per figure 2). Kneel on hands and knees and Line hands up with your shoulders. Bend your arms and bring chest close to the ground. Inhale as you go down and ensure you have a straight back at all times. Push against the ground lifting the body back into the starting position. Exhale as you come up. Do 8 to 15 repetitions.

ii. One arm bent-over row – Back and Biceps (per figure 3). I suggest you use a shopping bag with some household objects inside it to provide Middle Age Health and Fitnessweight. Kneel over the side of a bench by the placing one knee and the hand of the supporting arm on the table. Grasp the weighted bag from the floor and pull it up to the side of your body, until your upper arm is horizontal. Allow your arm to return to the extended starting position and repeat. Do 8 to 15 repetitions.

Middle Age Health and Fitness

iii. Arm curls – Biceps (Per figure 4). Hold a full water bottle in each hand, at your sides (for more weight, use shopping bags as above) and place the feet shoulder width apart. Lift one water bottle toward the shoulder, with the rotation coming from the elbow. Lower the arm back to the starting position and perform the same movement with the other arm. Do 10 to 20 repetitions with each arm.

Middle Age Health and Fitnessiv. Seated triceps extension – Triceps (per figure 5). Once again a weighted shopping bag can be used to provide weight. Sit on a bench and hold bag with both hands overlapping one another. Take the bag straight up and over the head, keeping the arms next to the ears. Lower the weight behind the head until elbows are at about 90 degree angles. Squeeze the triceps to straighten the arms without locking the joints. Repeat 10 to 15 times.Middle Age Health and Fitness

v. Squat – Legs and Buttocks (per figure 6) Use two weighted shopping bags. Stand with bags grasped to sides. Bend knees forward and allow buttocks to move down towards the ground. It is imperative to keep your back straight and knees pointed in the same direction as your feet. Bend the knees until the thighs are parallel to the floor. Then straighten the knees up to the upright position again. Repeat 10 to 15 times.

Middle Age Health and Fitnessvi. Leg raise (per figure 7) – Lie on your back. Keep your lower back in contact with the floor at all times and feet and legs straight and together. Place hands by your sides for support. Lift legs upward until they are straight above hips and then lower them down to the starting position slowly. Do 10 to 20 repetitions.

vii. Cool-down – do 3 to 5 minutes of static stretching for both the upper and lower body.

Start off with 2 sets of each of the above exercises and slowly build up to 3. Increase the weight as you get stronger. Resistance workouts should be done 2 to 3 times a week and not on consecutive days so that the muscles are given time to recover. You can do this work-out on the days you are not walking.

It is important to add variety to a fitness program to ensure that you do not get stale. These two workouts will, however, give you an excellent starting point and can be added to once you have established a routine.

Exercise for a Shy Beginner (part 1)

How often have you heard someone you know complaining about joining a gym, only to give up after a few sessions and be financially burdened by lock-in contracts for months ahead? Are you one of the innumerable individuals who have subscribed to a gym and then promptly stopped after feeling intimidated by all the seemingly fit people surrounding you? Have you been taken in by late night television advertising and bought one of those fitness infomercial products that promise to get you trim and in shape with just five minutes a day of seemingly effortless routines? Only to find that it doesn’t work like the adverts promised. I have no doubt the equipment is laid to rest and is gathering dust somewhere out of sight! Do you feel so out of shape that even the thought of starting an exercise program is just too daunting? Have you made that New Year resolution, promising yourself that you will look after your health better and then never had the fortitude to do anything about it? Are you too self Starting an exercise programconscious and reserved to have the nerve to join a fitness centre, an exercise group or take on a personal trainer? None of these are reasons enough not to start an exercise program. You have to start somewhere and once you are into a routine, then you can take small steps forward.

The major hurdle to starting an exercise program is taking that initial step. Then once you have taken the plunge, the principal stumbling block is staying motivated and to keep going. There are masses of websites which have long checklists and detailed suggestions for people wanting to initiate an exercise regime. These commonly include assessing your fitness level, setting goals, designing a program, purchasing equipment, joining a group, hiring a personal trainer and monitoring progress. My advice to the ”shy beginner” is much simpler, is easy to implement and does not involve big outlays of cash.

1. As a precaution always get medical advice before you commence an exercise program. Ensure your doctor knows what you are embarking on and clears you to start training

.2. If you have not already done so, then acquire a pair of good quality training shoes. Quality footwear will diminish the potential for injury, which is ever present with any exercise program.

3. Keep a journal or log book to plan what you are going to do and to track what you have done. Recording activity is an excellent motivational tool and helps you to stick to your goals and to chartMiddle Age - Walking for exercise your progress. The log book can also include a food journal, to track calorie intake and output. This is particularly useful if you are trying to lose weight.

4. Increase your consumption of water, not only to alleviate hydration as a result of increased activity but also for numerous other health benefits. Water is important to diet and weight loss as it flushes out the toxins released when burning calories and increases your blood volume. It helps to replenish skin tissues and, as such, improves skin tone. There are also benefits to the digestive system and to mood. Lastly, water is an important ingredient in reducing exercise related injuries and to lessening activity induced fatigue.

5. My final piece of advice is to schedule your exercise into your daily routine. It must become part of daily life for there to be any chance of long term success.

I suggest starting a basic program, that includes an aerobic exercise such as walking or slow running and supplement it with a limited number simple resistance exercises (the subject of my next post). This article is split into two parts and I will use the next post to detail a specific exercise program for a “shy beginner”. Click HERE to read “Middle Age Health and Fitness – An Exercise Program for a Shy Beginner (part 2)”.

The ‘M’ Effect (Part 5.2) – Maintenance, Moisturise & Massage Therapy (Cold Shower)

Continued from post 5.1…

3) Maintenance

It is never too late to dump a sedentary lifestyle and start exercising. There is a mountain of research that verifies this. One such study was done by Swedish researchers from Uppsala University, who monitored over two thousand men in the 50 to 60 age bracket. They found that increasing physical activity resulted in a reduction in mortality rates similar to that of quitting smoking. Furthermore, they concluded that those who continued with the increased activity levels ended up living as long as those who had already started exercising regularly, earlier on in life.

What is important though is that once you have increased your activity and fitness levels, then you should continue. Maintenance is vital for a number of reasons. The first is that when you stop exercising, your body will take some time to adjust and will still crave the same amount of food. This often leads to weight gain. During aerobic exercise, the body will use both stored carbohydrate as well as fat as sources of energy. If this exercise is discontinued, then the body The importance of maintaining a fitness programwill principally use carbohydrate for energy and virtually no fat. This will also result in weight gain.

There are also the obvious negatives from detraining such as a decline in fitness levels, muscle atrophy, reduced energy levels and a loss of body tone.

This does not mean, however, that you should not take breaks or give your body adequate rest between exercise sessions. It is vital to allow enough time between training sessions to refill your glycogen stores and allow for muscle repair.

Exercising consistently is central to conditioning, losing weight, overall wellness and building endurance but you are likely to reach stages, where you are fatigued or unmotivated and in desperate need of a break. Taking a break may be just what is required to rest, recover and rejuvenate. The question is, how long before you start losing the gains you have made? There is no exact formula for when to take a rest or for how long but it is generally accepted that a week or even longer, every couple of months will not materially affect the gains you have made. It is crucial to listen to your body for signs of overtraining and to take time out whenever that happens.

4) Moisturise

Moisturising is a vital component of good skin care and even more so as we age. The benefits are both for health and aesthetic reasons. It is almosthealth benefits of moisturising universal for women to use face and body creams but there is often, still a stigma for men who use them. This section is aimed at everyone but in particular at those men who do not think it is manly (or for any other reasons) to use moisturisers.

Major benefits include the fact that moisturisers aid in removing free radicals from the skin and also help in fortifying the walls of blood vessels in the skin. The latter has the effect of improving circulation. The former are substances that linger within the body and have a negative impact on the skin. Removing these free radicals slows down the ageing effect.

Moisturisers supply an extra layer of protection against damaging pollutants that attack our skin on a daily basis. Finally, from an appearance perspective, face and body creams hydrate the skin and help to avoid unattractive dryness. They assist in keeping us looking younger and healthier.

5) Massage Therapy – Cold shower

It was whilst reading one of Dan Brown’s novels featuring symbologist Robert Langdon, that I was introduced to the benefits of having a cold shower. I subsequently researched the topic and was amazed at the assortment of health and beauty benefits of this easy to follow home therapy. I have been taking cold showers ever since.

the health benefits of a cold showerIt can be unpleasant to jump straight into a cold shower and I suggest you first start with hot water and end with an invigorating few minutes of cold. The general consensus is that alternating between hot and cold has the best results anyway. The benefits can be listed as follows:

· Brings blood to the capillaries, therefore increasing circulation throughout the body. Advocates of cold shower massage therapy contend that the stimulation of the circulatory system keeps them healthier and looking younger. This includes decreasing the risk of heart disease.

· A study done by the Thrombosis Research Institute in England in the late nineties, concluded that individuals who took daily cold showers boosted their immune system. The cold water caused an increase in the number of virus fighting white blood cells, as compared to individuals who took hot showers.

· A cold shower results in muscle contraction which helps to eliminate toxins from the body.

· As we age our testosterone levels naturally decline, which leads to low energy and strength levels and a decline in libido. Research has found that cold showers increase the production of testosterone and hence help revitalize us.

· Other perceived benefits include reduced blood pressure on internal organs, reduced stress, cleaner circulatory system and reduced hair loss.

It is important to note that there are potential health risks involved with taking cold showers and so it may not be for everyone. It is advisable to speak to your physician before making it part of your daily routine.