Have you ever thought about exercising for just 5 minutes a day? Of course not, what’s the point in that? We’ve all been told and read about the benefits of exercising in older age and that’s great advice. The NHS recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week for people up to 64 years of age.
We should all aim to do some form of physical exercise everyday because as we age it’s even more important to keep mobile. Remember the old adage that ‘what’s good for the body is good for the mind’ and that’s absolutely true because blood not only flows into the muscles when we exercise but also travels into the brain, taking with it extra oxygen and nutrients.
Keeping physically and mentally active going into older age is so important and deciding to embark on a journey to get fitter is a huge step forward and should be one of your top goals. Set achievable targets in terms of weight lost, blood pressure, how long and how often you train etc and check regularly that you’re on track.
Why don’t we exercise?
The barrier to exercise is not normally a physical one (although that certainly is for some) because almost all of us can do something each day, even something like chair yoga for those of us not so mobile is beneficial. The barrier seems to be in our own minds and for a number of reasons we will find an excuse not to exercise, especially if we’ve not exercised for a while, feel like we’re overweight and possibly self conscious and think people are staring at us.
Benefits of Exercise
The benefits of exercising are numerous; lower blood pressure, better balance, more strength, better posture, clarity of thought, better sleep and a healthy weight are just some.
How to get started
Well, if you’re not confident in your ability to exercise or not confident in the way you look and feel, then going to a gym is probably not at the top of your list.
Starting an exercise program is a mind-set and until you’re more confident, then exercising from home is an option. What you shouldn’t do, is do too much too soon and what you should do, is to talk to your doctor or health professional before you start exercising – this is very important and is the first step.
Exercising as we’ve already said is a mind-set and a habit but a good habit and exercising for just 5 minutes a day initially, will get you into that good habit slowly. As we age, exercising, even for just a few minutes has so many more benefits than it does for someone much younger that needs a strenuous workout to make any difference.
The first thing not to neglect is the warm up and stretching before you start any exercises. This will help to prevent injuries and make your workout more effective.
We could make a very good case for only doing the ‘warm up and stretching’ part for the first couple of weeks, especially if you haven’t exercised in a long while as a good warm up can be pretty tiring and challenging on it’s own.
Take things slowly at first and build up to a full workout in small steps. You’ve already done the hard part by committing to getting fit.
Strength and Balance
The main exercises should be those focused on strength and balance. A strong core (stomach and back muscles) and legs will help prevent trips and falls in those less able.
Research shows that 1 in 3 adults over 65 who live at home will have at least one fall a year, and about half of these will have more frequent falls. Focusing on strength and balance exercises is essential to staying mobile and well in older age.
Photo by Febrian Zakaria
Whole Body Workout
As you’ll probably choose to start your exercising from home, a cross training machine (also known as an elliptical trainer) is a great piece of home exercise equipment that could help you not only warm up but also do a whole body workout in a few moments a day – safely. Choose carefully and ensure it has handles so you can get an upper and lower body workout.
Most decent machines will be adjustable so you can increase the intensity of your workout as you start to get fitter. Again just start with a 5 minute work out for a couple of weeks and then gradually start to increase the time by 1 – 2 minutes per session per week.
The benefits of exercising for just 5 minutes a day will start to show very quickly and you’ll feel fitter, healthier and more confident which in turn gives you a great mental boost. The benefits of using a cross trainer are:
- Low impact exercise
- Suitable for all fitness levels
- Improves balance
- Less stress on your joints
- Burns body fat
- Builds strength
- Excellent cardio workout
Don’t forget that as you exercise more you need to think about nutrition and ensure you’re getting enough vitamins (especially Vitamin D) and minerals in your diet. A balance diet with plenty of protein for muscle strength, calcium for strong bones, fibre to keep you regular.
We have plenty of articles here on food, drink and nutrition in general
Amazon have a range of cross training machines and you can go to their section by following this link: Amazon
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