Q. I am a 64-year-old woman who had a bowel cancer operation recently. Now I feel ready to get back to some exercise. I try to go for a walk each morning but find it difficult to get my feet moving and feel tight in ankles and shins. Should I just put up with it?
A. The short answer to this is: no. It is easy to convince yourself that getting older is just a process you need to accept, and that the downsides such as feeling stiffer, more tired and weaker are inevitable and irreversible.
Of course in the immediate aftermath of a big operation, fatigue will be a problem as the body takes time to heal. But trying to get active as soon as possible is highly beneficial to recovery.
Just eight to ten minutes of mobility exercises a day will make a massive difference in terms of protecting the joints
Just eight to ten minutes of mobility exercises a day will make a massive difference in terms of protecting the joints.
If you stretch the thighs, hamstrings, calves, Achilles, glutes and lower back every morning for two weeks, walking will start to feel easier.
Strengthening the leg muscles will allow you to feel more able to push harder. So squats, lunges, step-ups and ‘glute bridge’ exercises should be done every other day in sets of 20 to 25 reps, and for three to four sets.
It doesn’t take much for us to maintain and build strength, stability and mobility, but when you don’t do it you go backwards quickly.
If you stretch the thighs, hamstrings, calves, Achilles, glutes and lower back every morning for two weeks, walking will start to feel easier
Q. I am desperate to shed a stone by my 50th birthday in July. I go to the gym and stick to a diet of no more than 800 to 1,000 calories a day – but I’ve lost no weight for the past two weeks.
For most people, the reason for working out and dieting is to feel better, and to lose weight and look fitter.
Email [email protected] or write to Health, The Mail on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London, W8 5TT. Matt can only answer in a general context and cannot respond to individual cases, or give personal replies.
With that in mind, we need to make ourselves become real metabolic machines – and burn calories and fat.
Four days per week you should be doing pre-breakfast ‘fasting cardio’ at a low to moderate intensity, so before eating anything, try some brisk walking, a slow jog or a moderate cycle ride.
This is to access your fat reserves before you raise your blood sugar with any food you consume.
On four days each week, try a 20-minute interval training session: pick an exercise, such as running, skipping or cycling, and alternate between high- and low-intensity. See if you can manage 30 to 60 seconds on the high and the same duration on the low, for eight to ten reps.
You should try to do a strength programme using body weight on three days each week. Alternate between your upper and lower body in an eight-exercise circuit, doing sets that are 30 to 45 seconds in duration with a 15-second rest between each.
Stunning Helena Christensen has taken up pole-dancing, according to her social media posts
On the diet front, avoid long periods of low-calorie intake. Eat properly then one day a week try a ‘fast’ and consume 600 calories.
This will rest your gut and help you to produce human growth hormones the next day when you train, resulting in increased strength and raised metabolism. This type of pattern produces great weight and fat loss and it is something I use regularly.
No harm in being a pole star just like Helena
Stunning Helena Christensen has taken up pole-dancing, according to her social media posts. But the Danish supermodel and mother-of-one hasn’t fallen on hard times – it’s part of her fitness regime.
Images she has posted online have caused quite a stir. At 48, she looks in fantastic shape, with a figure that would be the envy of women half her age.
Images she has posted online have caused quite a stir. At 48, she looks in fantastic shape, with a figure that would be the envy of women half her age
Having been lucky enough to meet Helena a few times, I have to say that she is just as mesmerising in real life. And clearly her new hobby isn’t doing her any harm.
But is pole-dancing any good as an exercise? In my opinion, there’s an obvious risk of falling and landing on your back, head, knee or other part of your anatomy.
But lifting your entire body with your arms to spin gracefully around a pole is, undoubtedly, quite a workout for the core, inner thighs, glutes and arm muscles. If you fancy it, there’s no harm in trying (carefully).