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Summer Shape-Up in 15 Minutes a Day? Check This Out!


Did you just realize that summer is around the corner and you haven't done a single one of those "New Year's Resolutions" to get more fit? You're not alone.

But here's the good news: it's not too late! If you can commit to 15 minutes every single day for four weeks, I can guarantee you will be on your way to a better and stronger body by the Fourth of July, no matter what your age.

A few years ago I turned 50 and realized that I had been letting myself go: packing on the post-menopausal pounds and not doing any regular exercise, and it was all really starting to show. Unsure of what steps to take, I did what so many of us do under these circumstances: nothing. When the weight gain inched towards 15 pounds, though, I decided that drastic measures were required.

In desperation (and in the name of research - I was just starting to write The Best of Everything After 50), I called the best trainers in the country to get onto a program that would really work . The most amazing thing came out of the whole process: in addition to daily cardio to burn calories, exercise heart and lungs, and keep weight down, I learned that there are THREE EXERCISES that really get the job done. So I started doing them . . . every day.

Discussion: Do you exercise regularly?

Result? I went down an entire pant size, my arms developed curves I never thought I would ever have, and I can now do 20 or more push-ups. I am stronger, feel more powerful, and am doing everything I can to fight osteoporosis. Before starting, I got the green light from my doctor, which is strongly recommended, especially if you're over 50.

Just as I challenged myself a few years ago, here's my challenge to you:

Commit to doing these three exercises every day for four weeks - it will take you less than 15 minutes a day - then connect with me on Facebook letting me know how you're doing. Trust me, I'll nag and push you to keep going!

I know you will see a change in your body, just like I did. But, even more importantly, you will be stronger. The best part of all is you can do this program in your own home, whenever you want. No trainer, no cost ... just you and your yoga mat. Yay!

Here's what you'll need:

  • Yoga mat
  • Sneakers
  • Form fitting workout clothes (so you can check on your form)
  • Timer

Here are the rules:

  • Do these every day
  • Do one set in the very beginning, but work up to three sets
  • Do these moves as a "circuit" (move very quickly from one exercise to the next so you're getting a cardio workout, too)
  • Get the green light from your doctor
  • Follow the directions on how to do each exercise exactly as outlined below (or check out my new series on the AARP YouTube Channel - The Best of Everything - -to see how they're done. Click on the highlighted link or here.)
  • Remember to breathe
  • Take a 10 second rest between each set

Other things you can do to help with your overall fitness program:

  • Try to do some kind of cardio exercise every day for at least 30 minutes--walk, run, elliptical, swim, bike, Zumba ... whatever you enjoy doing. I'm a huge fan of the "walk/run" program. Check out the video about how to get started by clicking here.
  • Eat small, healthy meals throughout the day (every two to three hours) which include whole grains, dark leafy greens and no processed foods or sugar -- also drink lots of water and green tea
  • Enjoy yourself!

 Here are the three exercises that will transform your body:

Senior woman doing yoga on beach

THE PLANK: This is probably the best exercise you'll ever do. It's a Zen-like position that is highly effective because it works your entire body.

How to do The Plank: Hold your body in a "plank" position, simulating the "up" part of a push-up (see YouTube video below), but stay there, holding perfectly still, for 30 to 60 seconds. Keep your abs tight and your back flat the entire time. Try to lengthen your whole body, reaching back through your heels and forward through the top of your head. Your heart will be pounding, your arms will be shaking, but try to make it to 60 seconds (or more).

THE PUSH-UP: Nothing symbolizes fitness quite like the simple push-up. It tests your entire body by engaging every part of it -- arms, chest, abdomen, hips and legs. Doing them is the easiest, fastest and most effective way to get fit. They are the gold standard. You may need to start with a modified push-up (on your knees), but eventually, you'll build up to the full push-up. How low you go is not the most important thing. Keeping the proper form is  (see YouTube video, below, to see how to do the full and modified push-up).

How to do The Full Push-Up: Make your entire body straight, like a plank, with your toes and the balls of your feet on the mat, and hands directly under your chest. Using your arms, go down to the count of four, and back up to the count of four. Do 12 to 15 reps.

THE SQUAT: This is one of the best exercises for working the lower body, thighs, hips and butt. The movement is as if you are sitting in a chair.

How to do The Squat: Stand with your feet under your hips, shoulder width apart. Extend arms in front of you, for balance (or hold onto the back of a chair). To the count of four, slowly bend your knees, with your chest and butt out, stopping once you are almost "sitting in a chair." It's essential that you push your butt out as much as possible as you're going down, to keep the pressure off your knees. Do 15 reps.

And lastly . . . remember this: We can't control getting older . . . but . . . we can control how we do it!

Questions? I want to hear from you! Let me know how you're doing with the exercises. For more tips on living your best life after 50 (or 60, or 70...) check out  The Best of Everything After 50: The Experts' Guide to Style, Sex, Health, Money and More and Keep me posted on how you're doing by  subscribing to me on Facebook and "tweeting" me on Twitter at  @BGrufferman.  Check out the full video series- The Best of Everything-on the AARP YouTube Channel.

Photo Credits: Barbara Hannah Grufferman personal collection,  Alamy


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