Being inactive is a major risk to our health especially as we get older, which is why both Professor Sir Muir Gray, my co-author and I say “down with sofas and up with stairs!” Becoming more active and taking more exercise will:
- Help you feel better
- Reduce your risk of many common health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, depression and, best news of all, dementia.
- Make the treatment for any condition or disease more effective, and can sometimes lead to the need for pills disappearing completely.
- Improve both your mood and your brain function– how you think and feel. Being fit is a necessity, not just an option. Your individual level of fitness will depend on your personal lifestyle, interests and the commitment you have to looking after your health.
Fitness is all about being able to do the things you want when you want to. The benefits of exercise all begin with “S”:
- Stamina – gives you the energy to keep going
- Strength – helps build strong muscles to tackle any necessary work
- Suppleness – encourages flexibility letting you bend and stretch
- Skill – being active encourages co-ordination of body and mind
(There is a fifth “S”: Shape – exercising expends energy (burns calories) helping control your weight – an important bonus).
Being active actually boosts your energy levels. When we exercise, the body releases chemicals called endorphins which give us a ‘feel-good’ factor as the circulation gets going, improving our heart and lung efficiency. The earlier you develop good habits, the more benefit you’ll feel as the years roll past. So make the opportunity to be more active, and take it, anytime, anywhere and in any way. Start with simple things, like taking the dog for a walk or using the stairs instead of lifts. Or try walking to work or the shops or to school instead of taking the car. Then you can look forward to enjoying many more years of ACTIVE life.
OK, it’s action time, so up off your bottom, and let’s make a start by shaping up your seat. You will need an upright chair to help you tone up.
Warning: Take care attempting these exercises if you suffer from back problems.
Ex 1 Ballet
To work legs and bottom (gluteals): stand sideways to an upright chair, hold on with your left arm for support Stretch out your right arm like a ballet
dancer, for balance. Point toes and swing your right leg forwards and backwards, working the muscles of thigh, hip and bottom. Continue ten times. Turn around to hold the chair with your right arm and swing your left leg as high as possible. Continue ten times.
Ex 2 Bob and lift
To work bottom muscles: stand facing the back of a chair and hold on with both hands. Slightly bend your right knee. Now lift your left foot up off the floor. Straighten your right knee, standing up; at the same time, straighten out your left leg behind you, pointing your toes. Hold up for five seconds. Repeat bobbing and lifting five times and feel your bottom muscles working. Repeat five times on the other leg.
Now it’s time to get down to the bottom of the problem with some floor exercises to strengthen your bottom and your back.
Ex 3 Bottom lift
To work your hips, thighs and bottom: lie back on the floor, arms at your sides, knees bent and shoulder width apart. Clench your buttocks, pull in your tummy. Tilt your pelvis forwards and lift your bottom off the ground, transferring your weight on to your shoulders. Hold for five seconds. Relax down and repeat five times.