Walk 30 Minutes Every Day
What’s the single best prescription that any doctor or physio can give you? Something that reduces the progression of dementia, reduces susceptibility to type 2 diabetes, reduces blood pressure, cardiovascular problems, depression and much more?
The answer isn’t a brand-new miracle drug, it’s 30 minutes of brisk walking a day. As a physiotherapist, I would love for everyone to exercise more than that, but if you want the single biggest bang for your buck improvement to your health, just 30 minutes of walking a day will significantly increase your longevity compared to doing nothing at all.
Stand On One Leg While You Brush Your Teeth
Our sense of balance gradually deteriorates as we age, meaning that everyone must work to maintain this sense that came naturally in our younger years. Losing balance means more than just clumsiness, it can mean dangerous falls that can result in broken bones, joints or worse.
Luckily, you have four spare minutes every day when you could be working on your balance: the time you spend brushing your teeth. Stand on one leg for as long as you can then alternate to the other and back again until you’ve finished brushing your teeth. Once you’re comfortable doing this with your eyes open, try the same with your eyes closed.
This exercise will gradually improve your balance and fit seamlessly into your existing routine.
Improve Your Upper Body Strength…
Push ups are one of the simplest upper body exercises and also one of the best as it strengthens the arms, chest and core all at once. You don’t need anything more to do a push up than a bit of spare floor space, so there’s no excuse not to start your day with them. If you’re not used to doing push ups, start slowly adding one push up per day until you get to the desired range.
Here’s a simple guide you can follow for how many push ups I think you should aim to do in one go:
|Males||Females (on knees)|
|30-39 years old||At least 30||At least 22|
|40-49 years old||At least 25||At least 18|
|50-59 years old||At least 20||At least 16|
|60 + years old||At least 15||At least 13|
…And Your Lower Body Strength
An equally simple strengthening exercise for your glutes, thighs and hips is a sit-to-stand exercise. It’s exactly as it sounds: you sit in a sturdy chair that bends your knees to 90 degrees then (with your hands on your shoulders, and elbows pointing forward) you stand without assistance. Keep doing this for 30 seconds and count how many sit-to-stand cycles you complete. Rest and repeat twice more.
Here a guide for how many complete sit-to-stand repetitions you should aim to do in thirty seconds:
|30-39 years old||At least 28||At least 26|
|40-49 years old||At least 25||At least 23|
|50-59 years old||At least 20||At least 18|
|60-69 years old||At least 15||At least 15|
|70 + years old||At least 13||At least 12|
Break Your Routines
By nature, routines aren’t something we think about. If you dedicate just a bit of time every month to thinking about your routines and how you might improve them, you’ll discover simple ways to improve your health and well-being, such as those listed above. Make one change a month to your routine that isn’t about working harder or making more money but purely about your health, whether it’s physical, emotional or mental.
The people I meet who are active into their old age are the people who decided to take control of their health and not simply be pushed around by life’s forces. Take the attitude that you are your own parent, who looks after you with a long-term view of your best interests.
Of course, if you need push or a helping hand, we’re always here to help. Whether you’re a fitness aficionado or struggling through your first push up, we can show you how to make the most of your body and live life to the full for as long as you live it.
Clinical Director, West London Physiotherapy