In my June 11 column, which marked the return of Fitness Diaries, I asked readers to reach out to me about their personal fitness journeys.
Recently, a loyal Gazette reader did exactly that, seeking my advice on her wellness goals. She is a 62-year-old grandmother and wants help with finding exercises that will help her keep up with her two young grandchildren; one is 2 and the other is 2 months old. This grandmother also is intimidated by gyms and is in search of finding a routine she can stick to.
Since there are plenty of grandparents out there, I decided to share some of the advice I would have given this reader directly in hopes it will help anyone wanting ways to increase their stamina, flexibility and strength .
Plus, I understand how it can be intimidating to start a workout routine in a packed athletic club environment. So below are a few low-impact options to get you moving that don’t require a gym membership. Again, make sure to consult a doctor before starting any workout routine.
Walking: This exercise is one of the best ways to build endurance, while also strengthening the heart, lungs and legs. And it can be done anywhere. Start out slow. Try to focus on keeping your posture upright and taking long strides. When you’re ready, increase your distance and your time until you’re able to walk 30 to 60 minutes daily.
Grab a family member or a friend to walk with you to help keep you motivated and accountable.
Workouts in the water: Jump in the water at a nearby recreation center or public swimming pool to get a full-body workout. Swimming or exercising in the water is another great way to build endurance and muscle. It also can help you increase flexibility and range of motion — especially if you’re recovering from a total knee replacement or shoulder surgery. The water takes stress off the joints while allowing you to get stronger when using the resistance of the water.
If you’re new to exercising in the water, jump in the pool and start by walking from one end to the other to get acclimated to how you move. Push your arms in front of you in a circular motion and work to pick up your knees in line with your waist with each step. Shift to a jog or run for more of a challenge. If completing water exercises is your primary workout, strive to be in the pool for at least 90 to 180 minutes a week.
Weightlifting: As we age, we start losing muscle mass, so it’s important to include weightlifting in your weekly routine. Again, start out slow. Use very light weights, 1- to 5-pound dumbbells, to exercise the upper body. If that is still too heavy, start without the weights and make sure to flex each muscle group while going through each exercises focused on biceps, triceps, shoulders and the back.
Try to work up to 30 minutes of weightlifting for each muscle group twice a week, gradually increasing the weight load. Light-weighted dumbbells can be purchased at most sporting good stores if you want to do these workouts at home.
Personal training: If you’re unsure about proper cardio and strength training exercises, schedule a consultation or fitness assessment with a personal trainer.
This is when you will sit down with the trainer and talk about how he or she will help you meet your fitness goals. This session should be free and it will give you a clear roadmap of what it will take to achieve your specific goals. Also, this is an opportunity to see if your personalities are a good fit. Don’t forget to ask the trainer about success stories and how he or she has been able to help others achieve wellness goals.
Personal trainers don’t only exist in the gyms; there are several who make house calls, too. Reach out to these fitness professionals so they can provide you with safe and effective workouts, while providing extra encouragement to ensure your success.
If you are seeking advice in starting or maintaining your fitness goals, send an email with the subject line “My fitness goals” to email@example.com.