For previous weeks, click here. Week Six will be published on Monday Aug 31
This week’s exercise
By Luke Gray
We have created a six-week movement plan for midlifers and it works both for beginner and experienced exercisers. This week, I’ve given you four exercises that will get your whole body working.
1. Lunge split
5-10 reps x2
A great way to boost thigh strength is by doing lunges.
A starting position is to place one leg in front of the other (holding onto furniture) and then bend both knees and lower down towards the floor (split lunge) with both legs at 90 degrees and the front knee above the foot, back straight and head in neutral. Then return to the start position and repeat.
As you improve, remove your hand from any support.
For a more challenging lunge, put one leg in front of you and then remove it back to the original standing position. It then becomes a moving exercise instead of a static one.
One of the most functional exercises is the walkout. It is a whole body movement.
From a standing position crouch down so that your hands walk the body along the floor to an extended plank position. Then walk the hands back returning to the original standing position. This is a great move for arm, shoulder, chest and core strength.
To make the exercise easier and more accessible start in a hands down crouching position without the knees touching the floor and walk out and back.
3. Dead bug
Start by lying on your back with your arms skyward and feet off the floor you’re your knees bent.
Extend the right arm onto the floor behind your head and simultaneously extend your left leg. Bring them back to the start position and alternate with your left arm and right leg.
To make the exercise more difficult don’t touch the floor with your extending arms and legs (and hold your core in tight).
To make it easier maintain one leg in a knee bent position while extending arms and legs.
4. Abductor-leg lift
10-20 reps x2
To strengthen the outside thigh (abductors) and buttocks, lie on your side and raise a straight leg upwards, keeping your core engaged and hips pushed forwards.
Repeat with your other leg.
An easier version is to keep both legs bent before raising the top leg.
The lifestyle tweaks
By Jo Gray
My mother will often laugh away her forgetfulness and says, ‘Your memory goes in old age, it’s just to be expected.’ But we’re learning all the time that our lifestyle can play a huge role in improving our memories and brain age. And the good news is, it’s never too late to start.
We had a 92-year-old client, who sadly passed away recently, and he was as sharp as any 20-something I’ve ever met. He always had a book on the go, he read a newspaper every single day, and he loved doing puzzles. I once asked him how he stayed so sharp and he said, ‘Because I keep my mind active. Your brain, after all, is like any other muscle and the more you work it, the healthier and stronger it will be. He also put it down to the fact he had always played the piano.
Studies show that playing a musical instrument, along with reading, puzzles, and learning a new language, can keep your brain sharp and memory strong. So try to keep your brain active by learning new skills, like cooking, gardening, or even a new language.
You can get the whole family involved too. A game Luke and I play with our children involves laying out about 10 or 15 items on a tray, studying them for a few minutes, and then covering them up with a tea towel. Each person then has to write down as many items on the tray as they can and the winner is the person who has remembered the most. Or try the ABC game, where you pick a topic – say animals – and go round in turns, naming an animal that begins with a letter of the alphabet. Just simple brain games like this can really help.
Food is another factor in brain health and memory. Fatty oily fish, such as salmon or mackerel, is good for the brain. As is dark green leafy vegetables, avocado, beetroot, nuts (especially almonds and walnuts), seeds and berries. It’s important to stay hydrated too, because when we’re dehydrated we often lack focus and feel more forgetful.
Exercise is great for memory and brain power because it stimulates our brain cells to grow and stimulates blood flow all around the body, including to the brain. Lastly, get a good night’s sleep, because your brain, like all muscles, needs a nice rest so it can reset and rejuvenate.
Luke and Jo Gray are offering Telegraph readers 20pc off their online Living Eighty Twenty programme and bespoke one-on-one training. Use the discount code 20PERCENT on livingeightytwenty.com or quote in emails to [email protected]