I exercise regularly and would like to take up yoga but I can’t touch my toes as my hamstrings are too tight. Is this normal for a 60-year-old man and how can I improve it?
Poor mobility and tight muscles are at the root of most back, hip and knee pain and can lead to serious injuries.
Tight hamstrings are especially common in men and this, along with stiff glutes and hip flexors, often needs addressing.
Yoga is a great way to promote greater mobility, but beginners must start slowly and steadily.
I exercise regularly and would like to take up yoga but I can’t touch my toes as my hamstrings are too tight. Is this normal for a 60-year-old man and how can I improve it? (file photo)
Three daily stretches will vastly improve flexibility in hamstrings, hip flexors and glutes or buttocks. You will feel better almost straight away and ongoing benefits if you keep these up:
- Hamstrings: starting in a kneeling position, extend one leg straight out ahead of you with the pressure on your heel. Keeping a relatively straight back, lean over your outstretched leg until you feel a strong stretch in the hamstring. Point toes on the extended foot towards you for two to three seconds, then release. Do this three to four times on both legs.
- Hip Flexors: kneel on one knee with one leg out in front, bent at the knee so the sole of the foot is flat on the ground in front of you. Lean your weight forwards until you feel a stretch in your hip and hold for eight to ten seconds, then release. Repeat two to three times both sides.
- Glutes: Lying on your back, cross your right foot on to the left knee, grab your left leg behind the thigh and pull the legs towards you for a right buttock stretch. Hold for 10-15 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times both sides.
Yoga is a great way to promote greater mobility, but beginners must start slowly and steadily (file photo)
I am a 68-year-old woman in good health and enjoy a regular hour-long spin classes. I’ve read that I should measure my maximum heart rate to make sure I am working as hard as possible. Is it true that the general rule of thumb is that my maximum heart rate should be 220 minus my age – meaning I should be aiming for about 152 beats per minute?
It is true that listening to your heart is a good way to tell if you are exercising hard enough to improve your cardiovascular fitness, while avoiding over-exertion. The maximum beats per minute figure shows that the body is pushed to its limits, burning optimum body fat.
However, most of the exercise we do (150 minutes every week is recommended) should be within our target heart rate range instead, at a moderate intensity that is far safer and easier to maintain than a maximum heart rate.
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This can be measured fairly accurately via a fitness tracker or phone app, and should have you feeling breathless but still able to hold a conversation.
To work out your target heart rate, you do need to know your maximum heart rate, which is, as you say, 220 minus your age.
Then, to get the target rate, calculate between 50 and 70 per cent of this. For example, the estimated maximum heart rate for a 40-year-old is 180 beats per minute – 220 minus 40. That means the target heart rate is about 100 to 130.
For most of us, exercising at a target heart rate is the best way to increase fitness and strength over time.
Be like Beyoncé and focus on your baby and wellbeing after giving birth
Beyonce has been talking about accepting her post-pregnancy body following the birth of twins Sir and Rumi in June last year.
She’s even coined a new term for her fuller post-pregnancy stomach: a ‘fupa’ – or fatty upper pubic area.
The 36-year-old mother-of-three suffered the serious high blood pressure condition pre-eclampsia during pregnancy and had an emergency caesarean.
Now the singer says she is more concerned with enjoying her new babies and recovering rather than winning back her washboard abs.
It’s a healthy attitude. Celebrities with a team of trainers may appear to snap back into shape within months, but for most, it will take two years to be strong enough to take up pre-pregnancy exercise routines.
But there’s no rush. Your baby, and your own wellbeing, are far more important.
Beyoncé, pictured before the twins arrived, says she is more concerned with enjoying her new babies and recovering rather than winning back her washboard abs