Most of us have too much sedentary time. Sometimes it can be overwhelming to change an ingrained habit. Let me see if I can convince myself… well, and maybe you too.
Believe it or not, we begin to lose lean muscle mass as early as our 30s. Approximately, up to 5% disappears in that decade alone. That number jumps up after 65. Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between our health and the amount of muscle mass we have. It is critical to start a ‘build lean muscle’ program as soon as we can. In addition, the more muscle mass we possess, the faster our metabolism, the less jiggly our limbs, and the easier it is to lose and keep off excess weight. Having a strong, fit body reduces our incident of falling and breaking stuff. If these aren’t reasons enough, lean muscle mass also decreases our risk of stroke, heart disease, and diabetes.
If you’re thinking: ‘good grief, I am already 50 and haven’t lifted anything heavier than my glass of wine’; don’t discourage. It is not too late to start. Most of these moves can be done at home; with a chair, hand weights, and a mat. Using our ‘own’ body weight, in a series of compound movements, can make the world of difference.
Take a break from the laptop, or the meetings, or whatever it is that keeps us sitting. Even if we go to the gym or run or swim three to five times a week, these are still great to sprinkle in throughout our day.
Try these three today:
- Squat To Chair:
This one is super because it requires nothing but our body and a chair. Using our entire lower body, in a weight-bearing, compound, complex exercise is key for bone health. Targeting and strengthening the muscles and bone of our pelvic region is essential to keep us from pre-maturely falling. Not to mention, it’ll keep the groaning of standing from a seated position to a minimum. 15 to 20 reps would be a great start. Maybe we sneak them in two or three times during the day.
2. Reverse Lunge with Dumbbells
This compound move strengthens those specific movement patterns that are responsible for walking, stair climbing, and going from sitting to standing and vice versa. All of these movements we take for granted in our youth and as we age we become more ‘aware’ of the stairs, or the getting up after sitting for a prolonged period.
Many of us grew up with the typical ‘Forward Lunge Walk’ in high school P.E. or aerobics class (boy, am I dating myself). The Backward Lunge is far superior to the Forward Lunge. Backward momentum keeps the body in the ideal lunge position—weight on the heel with the knee above the ankle. A Forward Lunge, shifts the center of gravity too far forward, the body weight shifts to the ball of the foot rather than the heel and moves the knee too close to the toe. This can lead to knee pain because our quads apply most of the pressure and our hamstrings and glutes lose power. When we take our glutes and hamstrings out of the mix we lose knee stability. In short, go backwards!
If you don’t have something heavy to carry, do them without. You’re still carrying your own body weight. 15 to 20 reps each side. Once again, we can sneak them in a few times during the day.
3. Superman on All Fours
If your social and/or family group is anything like mine, you are probably hearing a lot of whining about back problems. This Superman on All Fours is one of the top, go-to, exercises physical therapists use for back health. It strengthens the muscles of our ‘posterior chain’ – this just so happens to guide every move we make. Every one of them! Core, glutes, back, and shoulder are all in it together when we engage in this move.
Once again, reps of 15 to 20 each side, snuck in three times throughout the day can only help make us stronger and healthier.