Exercise is important to maintaining body health and quality of life. When you reach a certain age, and depending on the type work you do, it becomes difficult to exercise adequately to achieve your fitness and health goals. This is especially critical because as we age, lack of exercise leads to a loss in muscle mass which can exacerbate other conditions.
I’ve always been an active person, engaging in rigorous sports, weight lifting, and the like, so reaching a point in my career where I’m primarily desk-bound, and when not at my desk, caught up in travel and meetings I’ve had to develop a way to get the necessary exercise to maintain an acceptable level of fitness.
Following is the weekly routine that I’ve been following for the past fifteen years. It can be adapted to individual preferences, and the exercises I do are appropriate for women as well as men. They don’t take the place of three intensive weight workouts each week, but they go a long way toward holding back the visible signs of aging and help in maintaining the flexibility and strength you need to have a healthy body.
Starting the Day
Many people recommend exercising three times a week. If you’re doing intensive aerobics or weight resistance exercises, this is important because it allows the muscles to heal and grow. My routine, however, is low-impact, so I do it every morning.
Toe Touches: After some mild stretching to loosen my back and leg muscles, I do fifteen to twenty toe touches. Standing with legs together, I bend slowly at the waist, hands together with fingers pointing down until I reach my toes. I slowly return to the standing position, and repeat. This exercise works back, hamstring, and stomach muscles, and helps increase your flexibility.
Squats: Standing with feet shoulder width apart and back straight, bend at the knees until in a sitting position. Hold for five seconds, and then return to the upright position. Repeat this twenty times. This exercise works hamstrings and calves.
Push-ups: My preference is the military push-up, which is face down, legs and back straight, feet together. The hands should be flat on the floor directly beneath the shoulder and you should be balanced on your toes. Push up slowly in one motion until your arms are straight, keeping back straight, hold for two or three seconds, and then lower your upper body until your chest touches the floor. Repeat fifteen or twenty times for best results. Works back, shoulder and arm muscles.
Crunches: Lie on the floor with knees raised, feet flat on the floor, and hands behind hour head. Raise your shoulders about three inches off the floor and hold the position for a count of ten. Lower your shoulders, count ten and repeat. Start with about twenty repetitions, increasing the number as your midsection strength increases. This exercise works the abdominal muscles.
Meditation: I finish my exercise every morning with a hot shower, and at the end of my shower after I’ve rinsed the soap off, I stand erect, arms loose at my sides and let the hot water strike my back, while I meditate by focusing on – but not staring at – the shower wall. Many people think of meditation as a mental exercise, but doing this for four or five minutes each morning will also help relax your muscles and increase physical well-being.
During the Week
In addition to my morning routine, I also walk as much as possible, aiming for a vigorous 20-minute walk at least three times a week. I also walk every day, preferring stairs to elevators. At least once a week, I play 18 holes of golf, walking instead of riding. When I’m on the road, I use hotel fitness center treadmills and stationary bikes for my walking.
Aging is something that we can’t avoid, but we can, through proper diet, adequate rest, and a good program of exercise, avoid some of the physical signs of aging. This program is a great way for busy executives or housewives to keep that physical edge and enjoy life.