The idea for this article came from a friend of ours who is fifty-one years old and is becoming increasingly disgusted with twentysomething guys who are in worse physical condition than he is and, when he comments on it, mumble about how they can’t afford to join a gym. They seem to be totally blind to the fact that one can exercise using ordinary household objects or simply by shifting the weight of one’s own body. He was ranting about this one day when I was over at his house and instructed me to tell the Internet about it.
Of course, we don’t know how old you are, readers. At some point, the effects of old age on strength and flexibility are inevitable . . . but that point certainly doesn’t come before age 50, and we’ve known people who were able to do some of these things at age 80 and beyond! If you are uncertain about your ability to do any of these things, warm up your muscles first and then try it slowly and gently. If you then find that you can’t do it, keep trying once a day, and you’ll probably get a little closer every time. With the exercises that involve weight or distance, start with a lower number and increase gradually.
Unfortunately, I didn’t write down all the exercises my friend was suggesting, but Daniel and I made our own list at home, and here it is:
- Pick up an ordinary dining-room chair, lift it over your head, and set it back down. If that’s easy for you, keep doing it until it isn’t easy any more.
- Walk at least two miles without stopping to rest.
- Carry a 30-pound box up a flight of stairs.
- Sit down on the floor with your legs criss-crossed, then stand up again, without touching your hands to the floor.
- Sit down on the floor on your heels (knees together in front of you), then stand up again, without touching your hands to the floor.
- Do 20 push-ups, or do the plank exercise: get into a push-up starting position and hold it for 1 minute. (Most people find one of these much harder on their neck or shoulders than the other.)
- Stand about 3 feet away from a table, the back of a chair, or other furniture about waist-high. Kick one leg up behind you, lean forward, and put your fingertips on the furniture. Make the line from fingers to toes as close to horizontal as possible. Hold it for at least 30 seconds. Then do it with the other leg up.
Exercises like these, the seven-minute stretch, or balancing on the ball take just a few minutes and are easy to work into your home life, without going to a gym or paying for anything (except an exercise ball, if you choose that–they cost $10-$15). You can do most of them while reading or watching TV. So why not get started improving your strength, flexibility, and stamina? It can only make things easier as you get older!
Since I happen to have 7 exercises in my list, I’m linking to 7 Quick Takes Friday, where you can learn why you should not drink a “progressive adult beverage” just because it was recommended by a rapper.