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The ideal low-impact gym workout

As we get older, our needs around physical exercise start to change. Sport is so commonly associated with younger people, yet it actually becomes more important to work out as we age. Strength and conditioning helps maintain muscle strength, while cardio helps to keep the heart healthy. The way we exercise may alter too and you might decide you want to modify your routine to account for differences in speed and agility.

But finding the right balance or knowing which movements to do is not always easy – especially in the gym. Luckily though, David Lloyd Clubs Personal Trainer, Maureen Hudson MSc, from David Lloyd Beckenham is a specialist in this area and has come up with a low-impact gym workout for over-55s. Designed to be inclusive for people of all fitness levels, it’s ideal for getting your joints moving, gently elevating your heart rate, and improving your overall flexibility, strength, and wellbeing.

Let’s get moving!

Just like every other workout, this mobility-focused routine begins with a gentle warm up. Loosen up your limbs with a short series of shoulder rolls, arm circles, lateral reaches, and side lunges. You can even throw in a couple of squats and knee lifts if you’re feeling limber. After that, it’s time to get started.

1. Around the world

Our workout opens with a classic. Standing or sitting with your feet shoulder-width apart, raise both arms over your head as if you’re reaching for the sky. Slowly bend from side to side, maintaining control as your muscles contract and relax. Do 5 reps on each side.

2. Swiss ball leg raises

Time to use the Swiss ball, which is perfect for core strength and balance. Sit on the ball with legs hip-distance apart for stability. Tighten your stomach to stabilize your pelvis and back, then extend one leg in front of you until it is horizontal (or, if not, as high as you can comfortably manage). Complete 2 sets of 10-12 reps for each leg.

3. Seated row with resistance tube

Sit on a yoga mat with your legs out in front of you. Place a tube or band around your feet (with your shoes on) and hold the other end in both hands.  Now straighten your spine, move your elbows back, and pull on the band in a slow rowing motion. Complete 10-15 reps in a set if you can, with abs tightened to support your back.

4. Kneeling cat stretch

Staying on your mat, move on to your hands and knees. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders and your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. As you inhale, lift your back to a rounded position – like a witch’s cat – and tuck your neck to gaze at the floor. As you exhale, do the opposite: lower your belly, arch your back, and look up to the ceiling. Try to complete 5-12 slow, controlled reps.

5. Side stretch

Standing or sitting, raise both hands over your head. Stretch to one side, keeping your spine long, and then slowly alternate to the other side. Hold for 10-12 seconds, then repeat 4 times on each side. You can also increase the stretch by holding your wrist or interlacing your fingers.

6. Lying glute lift

Lie flat on your mat with your arms extended outwards, your knees pointing up, and your heels dug into the floor. Tighten your abs and slowly lift your spine and hips off the floor. Squeeze your glutes (bum!) as you do so, then slowly return to the starting position. 2 sets of 10-12 reps is enough. For a more challenging option, try a harder Pilates ball between your thighs and squeeze.

7. Mobility squat

Slowly lower yourself into a squat position, then rise up to your tiptoes for 10 reps. Extend your arms outwards for an extra challenge.

8. Chair squat

If mobility squats are too intense, try chair squats instead. Sit near the edge of a chair, feet shoulder-width apart and knees bent at 90 degrees. From here, slowly stand up without using your arms to assist, then slowly lower yourself back down. Keeping your back straight, take 2 counts to get up and 2 to come down under control.

9. Hand figures of eight

Stand in a wide stance, abs pulled in, and interlace your fingers in front of your chest. Circle your wrist to draw a figure of eight in the air. Do 10 reps in one direction and 10 in the other. This is a great exercise for anyone with aching wrists or tight forearms.

10. Squat rotate

Almost finished! Assume a position with your feet shoulder-width apart. Slowly bend your knees and lower yourself into a squat position. As you extend your knees and return to a standing position, rotate your torso, and look over your shoulder. Repeat 10 times, going as low as you comfortably can – as you increase strength you will be able to go lower.

Tailor your workout with our friendly trainers

Like every effective workout, our low-impact exercise routine takes your individual goals and needs into account. Find out more about how David Lloyd Clubs can help you customise your routine by speaking to our friendly team, and with state-of-the-art gyms in our clubs across the UK, expert personal trainers and a wide variety of equipment, you are guaranteed to find a workout you enjoy. For information on how to become a member, visit our website.

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