Before we start talking about ‘ideal’ exercise. It is important to note that enjoyment is one of the best motivators. Basically if you can find an exercise that you enjoy you are much more likely to stick to it and be consistent.
Ideally you need 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activities EVERY DAY at a minimum. To increase your heart rate and maintain a healthy heart. Brisk walking is an ideal way to incorporate this in to your everyday life and you can split the session into two 15 minute walks.
To promote bone health as well as heart health weight bearing activities should be included. A mixture of cardiovascular and weight bearing activities includes: –
* Very fast walking or walking a hilly route
* Jogging or Jog / Walk intervals
* Low or high impact aerobics
* Elliptical or stair climbing machines
* Dancing (any type!)
* Sports with a change of direction (tennis, basketball, badminton)
To increase and maintain muscle mass, strength, bone mass and basal metabolic rate (how many calories your body burns every day) Pre and Post Menopausal women should undertake strength training. Not only this but by increasing your overall strength you will be able to perform every day living activities for longer.
Three training sessions a week is optimal and studies suggest that women should be working with a weight that they can lift for 7-8 repetitions. This is contrary to previous beliefs that women, especially older women, are limited to lifting teeny tiny dumbbells for 20+ reps.
Interestingly one study in New Zealand on women 80 years of age and older showed a 40 percent reduction in falls with simple strength and balance training.
If starting strength training for the first time I recommend seeking advice of a trainer who has qualifications and experience working with 3rd Age Women.
Important Tips for Strength Training
* Aim for 3 days a week with at least one days rest in between
* High resistance and lower reps provide more stimulus to the bone than low resistance and high reps
* It is important to include exercises that increase upper back and core strength and flexibility in the chest, hip flexors, hamstrings and thoracic spine. This will protect your spine and enhance ideal posture
* Avoid too much trunk flexion (e.g. toe touching)
* Ideally incorporate free-weight, standing exercises
* Change your programme every 6 – 8 weeks to promote better adaptations
Flexibility should not be overlooked to help reduce joint stiffness and reduce the risk of injury. Stretches should be targeted to areas where you feel tight or restricted and try and incorporate stretches into your everyday life.