Monday, October 13, 2008
Here are a few exercises Surrey certified strength and conditioning specialist Michelle Roots of Core Conditioning put together specifically for women in mid-life:
BACKS AND BABIES
Does your lower back hurt? “If you haven’t restrengthened your core after having a baby, your core will be weaker which can cause an increased curve in your lower back due to muscle imbalance, and lead to strain,” Roots said. Years of wearing high heels adds to problem. Stretching the hamstrings and strengthening the core will often help relieve pain.
- To strengthen your core: Lay on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Notice the gap between your lower back and the floor. Imagine someone is pulling a string from your belly button into the floor. Squeeze your abdominal
muscles until you feel your back flat against the floor and the gap has disappeared. Hold this position for five seconds, release and repeat nine more times.
- Stretch your hamstrings: Lie on your back with legs straight. Raise one leg straight up toward the ceiling or your head. Use your hands to apply gentle pressure to the leg and hold for 25 to 30 seconds. Do this every day for a few weeks and you’ll start to notice a difference.
BREASTS AND CARPAL TUNNEL
Women, particularly those with larger breasts, are predisposed to poor upper body posture with the shoulders rolled forward
- Doorway chest stretch: Standing in a doorway, raise an elbow to shoulder height and rest your forearm and palm of your hand against the door frame closest to you. Your arm should be bent at a right angle. Lean your shoulder forward until
you feel a pull in your chest. Hold for 25 to 30 seconds or until the muscle relaxes, and repeat two times. “This
helps to open up your chest and improve posture,” Roots said.
This exercise will build your tricep muscle which will help tone the “flubberjub” underyour arms. Do this exercise with general cardio training and the jigglies start to fade away. If you’d like to try “slow” training which early research indicates may help mid-life women delay age related muscle deterioration, this is a good exercise to try.
- Dumbell tricep kickback: Put your right palm and right knee on a bench. Keep shoulders horizontal with left foot flat on the ground. Hold dumbell in left hand and bring that elbow up to your hip. Now straighten your arm out behind you.
WEIGHT GAIN AND MENOPAUSE
“A lot of women gain weight around menopause and blame it on hormones, but the latest research indicates it’s actually due more to a decrease in activity as opposed to hormonal changes,” Roots said. Regular aerobic exercise prevents increases in body fat and also increases your resting metabolic weight, she said. Cardio exercise is key for decreasing blood pressure, decreasing resting heart rate and preventing heart disease. But while cardio activity is great for your heart, you can’t increase overall muscle strength just by doing cardio, Roots said. Even five to 10 minutes a day of strength training will make a big difference.