The six-week exercise and nutrition plan for midlifers to get back in shape

The Superman

This is a favourite of ours as it encourages your core to work while moving. Start on all fours so your hands and arms are below your shoulders and your knees are below the hips. Simultaneously raise your right arm straight ahead, and left leg, in a straight line behind you. Once you have returned them back to the floor raise your left arm and right leg. Alternate the action 10-20 times if you can, pulling in the core for every repetition to maintain stability. Do two times 5-10 reps. 

The Glute Bridge / The Buttock Lift

A great way to strengthen the buttocks and legs without putting pressure on your knees and hips. Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor and arms by your side. Pull in your core and lift your hips off the floor, trying not to lift too high as you don’t want to hyperextend the lower back. The target is to squeeze/contract the glutes/buttocks before returning carefully back to your starting position. Do 10 repetitions, then try to go up to 20 when you feel stronger.

The progression for the Glute Bridge is to cross one leg over the other, placing the left ankle so that it sits on the top of the right knee. Lift your hips up so that your right foot pushes down on to the floor to work the right buttock individually.

Once you have performed 10-20 reps, change legs (right ankle sits on your left knee) and try another 10-20 reps.

The lifestyle tweaks

Jo: “Over the next six weeks, I’m going to show you easy changes that will improve your sleep, stress, posture and social connections. This week, I’m going to focus on nutrition, which is the building block of good health.

“At the beginning of lockdown, you may have struggled to get to the shops, or to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, but now the shops are well stocked and the panic buying over, you can easily buy foods that strengthen and nourish your body. Here’s how…

Think about your bones

We start losing bone density from our thirties, so it’s never too soon to think about our bones. Previously, experts believed you had to build up bone density in your younger years – putting ‘bone in the bank’ as it were – but studies now show it’s never too late to improve bone health with good nutrition. Eat foods rich in vitamins D, C, and calcium. As well we citrus fruits and dairy, eggs, mushrooms, tuna, herrings, sardines and salmon are good choices. Beans and lentils are also good; a bean and lentil salad, full of dark green and colourful vegetables, with some oily fish, would make a great bone-boosting salad.

Get out in the sun

As we get older our skin becomes less efficient at absorbing vitamin D from the sun, so top up during the summer months. Get out every day, or have your breakfast in a sunny spot on your balcony or in your garden each morning.

Eat plenty of vitamin C: Via blackcurrants, strawberries, brightly coloured peppers, potatoes, oranges and sprouts. And calcium; traditional dairy is good, but very dark green leafy vegetables, like kale, cavolo nero, bok choi or broccoli, are very high in calcium and a good choice for vegans or those who are dairy-free.

Remember protein: As you get older this is especially important because our levels deplete; you need it to build muscle and it supports your immune system, so have some with every meal.

How to fix your lockdown bad habit: snacking

As we get older we need slightly fewer calories because our energy needs are lower, and our metabolisms slower. So make every calorie a good one. If you find yourself snacking more than usual in lockdown, buy bags of raw almonds or sunflower seeds and keep them with you. They’re filling, they curb cravings, feed muscles, and they’re full of calcium, so a good all-rounder.

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