During these stressful times, it’s more important than ever to keep your body fit. I don’t know about you, but with my gym closed and my yoga classes online, some days I find it challenging to get motivated. Then I take a look at my pear-shaped figure that seems to be ever-expanding with a wider middle-aged-middle and my forearms with “batwings” wiggling to and fro, and my stationery bicycle and weights on the dresser begin to take on more appeal.
Easy ways to add exercise into your life post 50
Speaking of appeal, a new book crossed my desk this month called Fitness Hacks For Over 50. It hit publication just when I was thinking how best to do more exercise during my Covid-19 quarantine.
The exercises in the book are right on target for four areas of fitness that are critical to healthy aging including: balance and coordination; flexibility and mobility; muscular strength; and aerobic capacity and endurance. All areas I need to focus on in my 60s and beyond. Plus, since there are 300 “hacks” in the book, I can pick one exercise per area and mix and match a new routine each day without getting bored. As a yogi, I was pleased to see many yoga exercises in the book.
An interview with Fitness Hacks For Over 50 author: K. Aleisha Fetters
To learn more about staying fit with Fitness Hacks For Over 50, I had an opportunity to interview its author, K. Aleisha Fetters. Aleisha is a journalist and a certified strength and conditioning specialist, whose work has been featured in publications including Time; Women’s Health; O, The Oprah Magazine and most recently in “Older and Stuck at Home? Expert Advice on Fitness” in The New York Times. (I feel so trendy keeping up with the same topics as my favorite newspaper!)
Let’s see what Aleisha has to say about staying fit over 50. I especially asked her to be specific for women over 50. Read these excerpts from our conversation and then be sure to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below. One lucky reader will win a copy of Fitness Hacks For Over 50. (Note: It may take longer to receive the giveaway due to the pandemic.)
Why is it so important to exercise post 50?
Aleisha: “Regular exercise helps to keep every aspect of ourselves healthy. This includes not just reducing the risk of disease, but also improving our muscle flexibility and mobility, balance and stability, cognitive, mental, and emotional health, and our ability to do whatever it is we want to do in life. All of these things matter at every age, but for those who are 50 and older, the length of life and quality of those years are major desire and driver behind people’s desire to move more.
Exercise can help reduce the risk of falls as well as the risk of breaking a bone if or when you do take a tumble. It improves energy levels. It protects the body against muscle losses and actively builds muscle to keep us independent, maintain healthy metabolisms, and help prevent gains in fat, especially abdominal fat, that can occur over the decades. It improves immune function. It fortifies the brain and has been shown to reduce both the risk and progression of dementia.”
What’s a good fitness routine – is it daily, weekly, how much time?
Aleisha: “CDC guidelines of 150 weekly minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise, or a combination of the two–along with total-body resistance training at least two days per week–is a great umbrella guideline for good baseline health.
Importantly, guidelines note that it’s beneficial to break up exercise throughout the week. After all, exercising five days per week, even if for 15 minutes at a time, will be more beneficial than doing all of that exercise in one single weekly workout. Sometimes, people do really well with set 3-, 4-, or 5-day schedules. Other times, it helps to be flexible, knowing that every day will have slightly different levels of activity, but taking steps to do something, every day will include some exercise. Spread things out while making sure that you give your body an opportunity for recovery.
How much will you need? If you try to do 30 minutes of low-intensity exercise (keeping your heart rate under 70% of your max) each day, you might not need a dedicated rest day at all. However, if you’re doing hard hour-long workouts, are breaking big sweats, and experience any post-workout muscle soreness, you might need to dedicate a day or two per week to recovery like gentle yoga and stretching.”
What about those who have aches and pains or health issues that may prevent them from certain exercises? Or those who are newbies to exercise? How can they start a fitness routine – are some hacks better than others?
Aleisha: “Everyone can start where they are right now! The book has a lot of hacks, right? That’s partly because, within the 50-plus bracket, there’s a huge range of fitness and ability levels. In the book, some hacks will be easier, harder, more comfortable, or less comfortable for different people.
For hacks with special mobility or ability requirement, under “you’ll need,” you’ll find information to help you know if and when you’re ready.
Also, you’ll find tips on how to scale things based on your levels. For example, there are several on-the-floor exercises within the book. But what if you have trouble getting down onto or back off of the floor? The book gives advice for performing those moves on your couch or bed. Make your workouts fit your body!”
As a post-menopausal woman, I am concerned about bone loss and osteoporosis. What are a few fitness hacks to build bone strength?
Aleisha: “Weight-bearing exercises–activities in which you’re supporting your body weight against the force of gravity–are critical to improving bone mineral density and strength at every age.
Axial-loaded weight-bearing exercises–ones that weigh you straight down through your body, such has squats and overhead shoulder presses–are huge for improving strength through the vertebrae and hips, two areas that are particularly vulnerable to compression fractures and breaks.
Also, any muscle-strengthening exercise benefits your bones. Your muscles attach to and pull on your bones to move them, and as you strengthen your muscles, you are also working the attached bones. Your muscles also act as a strengthening and protective scaffolding for your bones to help prevent breaks.”
What other fitness hacks would you recommend for post 50 women?
Aleisha: “It’s no easy hack, but I think it’s important to focus on engaging in movement out of an attitude of body love. Think about how incredible your body is and everything it has allowed you to experience in your life, and treat it in a way that’s about celebrating those strengths, keeping them, and even growing them. Think about what you want to gain from movement, rather than what you want to lose or erase from your body.”
This book came out at the right time. With gyms shut down due to the pandemic, how can those who are stuck inside most days still maintain a fitness routine?
Aleisha: “They can certainly try any of the hacks in the book, but they should also remember that there are far more than 300 ways to incorporate exercise into your life. Take this opportunity to explore anything that interests or might interest you. Get creative.
Lately, I’ve been doing not just the countertop exercises in the book, but also experimenting with bizarre countertop-involved exercises like chin-ups, dynamic side planks, triceps duckunders, and hanging glute bridges. I’ve figured out that if I put books in a duffle bag, run a towel through its handle, and hold one end of the towel with each hand, I can make shoulder raises so so hard!
I’m using my couch and chairs as exercise benches. I’ve found a few abandoned yet safe lots near my house where I can jog or skip around. I’ve started dragging my fitness equipment outside to our tiny balcony to get in much-needed outdoors time.
As a yoga practitioner and instructor, I was pleased to see you highlight many yoga poses in your book. Why is yoga so good for those over 50?
Aleisha: “Yes! I love yoga because its poses can help you get in a weight-bearing workout, flexibility and mobility program, aerobic routine, or recovery day. It builds strengthen, balance, stability, and aerobic fitness. And it feels GREAT–especially right now to help break up long stints sitting and reduce tension and stress! Ah, once I send this email I’m going to do a few flows myself. Open up those hips and lengthen my spine!”
Any other thoughts about Fitness Hacks For Over 50?
Aleisha: “It’s never too early to improve your longevity, and it’s also never too late!”
Enter giveaway for a copy of Fitness Hacks For Over 50
So how are you staying fit during your life after 50, especially these days during quarantine? Leave a comment and/or enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below. One random winner will receive a copy of Fitness Hacks for Over 50. (Note: The book may take time to receive due to delays during the pandemic. Open to U.S. residents only.)