As I age graceful like a prune, I continue to scan my Woman’s Day and AARP magazines for exercises that keep me fit without abusing what connective tissue I have left. Surpassing 50 has traumatized me enough. I’m not seeking a fitness plan that exacerbates the trauma on my post-menopausal porous bones right into a lifetime subscription for Boniva. I’ve researched every exercise guru website on the World Wide Womb and have discovered that I can perform these fitness gems right from the comfort of my home. No $4,000 treadmills or workout gear is needed. I rounded up a broom, my unused yoga mat, a 2×4, a chair, and built my own workout studio for Over-50-Somethings.
I focused each exercise on one or two problem areas known to men and women over the age of 50. Don’t get too comfortable on the couch for these, since it will actually require effort on your part. But I’m effervescent with glee at the prospect of cancelling my gym membership.
Planking As we age, we need to strengthen our core. A strong core gives you balance and keeps you from tipping over like that broken sofa lamp in the corner of your living room. On your yoga mat, place your forearms on the ground with elbows aligned below the shoulders and arms parallel to the body about should-width distance. Bend feet to a 90⁰ angle, raising your lower body from the ground. You should be stiff from toe to shoulder. You should begin to feel your abs burn in approximately 60 seconds. This one is much harder than it looks so plan to increase your planks week after week.
Clams This is a Pilates favorite and also deceiving on the difficulty scale. It works your outer thigh and glutes. Lie on your yoga mat with legs together and slightly bent at the knees. With one arm supporting your head, your elbow, hip and heels should be touching the floor. You may steady yourself with your free hand. Keeping your feet together, lift one knee straight toward the ceiling repeatedly. For a tougher challenge, keep your feet together, but elevated slightly above the ground.
Chair Lifts As we age, the dreaded arm flab and back fat settles in like a long lost cousin who just moved in and won’t ever move out, no matter what you do. Sit on the edge of your chair with legs slightly bent in front of you and feet on the ground. Place the palms of your hands at each side of your hips and gently lift your upper body from the chair. Lower your hips below the level point of your chair, and then back up again. This emulates a reverse push up, and will burn those problem areas off in no time. If your long lost cousin sees you doing this exercise in the dining room, thinking you’ve lost your mind he may move out. Bonus!
Hip Thrusts This awkward looking exercise is a twofer and benefits your glutes and abs. Lie on your back with your arms extended straight out perpendicular to your shoulders for stability. Legs should be bent at the knees at a 90⁰ angle with feet firmly planted on the floor. Breathe out, squeeze those glutes and lift your hips off the ground and hold the pose for a second or two. Lower hips back to the ground and repeat. Be sure you don’t strain the lower back by lifting your hips too high. This is also an endurance exercise meant to build up the booty.
Broom Twists If you need a little whittle in the waist region, this exercise will tone those muffin tops down. Find a broomstick or a dowel rod at least 4 feet in length. Hold the broom over the back of your neck with hands gripping each end of the stick. If you imagine a bucket hanging from each end, this will look like you are carrying water to the farmers in the field. With your feet firmly planted, twist to one side and bounce. Then repeat on the other side. You should be able work up to extended broom twists in no time.
Calf Lifts Men are born with stronger calves than women, but can benefit from this exercise as well. Women, this one will get your calves back into high-heel shape with minimal effort. Place a 3-foot section of 2×4 board in front of the bathroom mirror and stand on it with only your toes. Your heel and middle-foot will hang off the edge. While you are blow drying your hair, brushing your teeth, tweezing eyebrows, and applying makeup, lower your heels to the ground, then raise your body up on your tippy toes. The extension and lifting your body’s weight will tone your calf muscles in short order. Be sure to do this for as long as your body can stand it each day, or until time to apply mascara.
If you implement these simple exercises at home, you’ll begin to notice improved energy levels and tighter muscles. If you still want to go to the gym, my personal trainer is available since I fired him last week in Workout Wednesday’s Dear John to My Personal Trainer.