Three Exercises to Support Healthy Aging

Celebrity trainer Kim Lyons in an orange sports bra and black workout pants leaning on a tree with a bottle of water

By Kim Lyons, Celebrity Fitness and Nutrition Coach

Iā€™ll turn 51 this summer, and with each birthday the idea of pounding my body in the gym like I did in my 20s becomes less and less appealing! My personal goal, and the goal I help my clients achieve, is to love exercise well into our later years.

Itā€™s without dispute that exercise can positively impact our physical health in many ways, as well as our emotional and mental well-being, especially as we age. A decline in skeletal muscle mass (atrophy) begins during the third or fourth decade of life, and approximately 10% of muscle can be lost by the time weā€™re 50 (Lexell et al. 1988).

Many people associate exercise with weight loss, but the benefits go far beyond losing a few pounds. Although there are many great things exercise can do for us, letā€™s focus on three that, in my mind, stand out above the rest:

  1. Prevents Bone Loss: Men and women lose bone density as they age. Post-menopausal women can lose up to 2% each year. Exercise is important to help counteract this age-related bone loss and restore bone density.
  2. Supports Immunity: Although the exact way exercise supports immunity is not fully understood, some scientists believe that the anti-inflammatory effects of physical activity enable better immune function. A 2018 study linked moderate exercise with lower rates of respiratory illness and fewer sick days off work.
  3. Improves Mood: Simply put, exercise makes us feel good. When we feel good, we do more of the things we love, and thatā€™s important at all ages. Simple exercises can help ease some symptoms of anxiety and depression, improve relaxation, and create an overall sense of well-being.

The mission is to find exercises that feel good and can be done at home, without a ton of equipment. I recommend combination movements that combine upper and lower body exercises. Adding a bit of balance into the mix really helps engage your core muscles, allowing you to build stability that will help you in your day-to-day movements.

Here are three examples of combination movements that I recommend trying. Perform 8-12 reps on each side and repeat 3 times on each side for all 3 movements.

  1. High Plank with Knee Drive: Start in a pushup position. Bring one knee in towards the chest, then extend it up and out behind you.
Trainer Kim Lyons in a purple workout outfit demonstrating a high plank with a knee drive and the leg lift, the second part of her high plank with a knee drive fitness move
  1. Reverse Lunge to a Balanced Biceps Curl: Take a large step to the back and bend both knees to a 90-degree angle. Push off the back foot, bring your knee up, and hold the knee high as you perform a bicep curl. Tip: Keep your elbows by your side as you contract the biceps.

Trainer Kim Lyons demonstrating a reverse lunge while holding two dumbbells and the second part of a reverse lunge to a balanced knee lift with a biceps curl

  1. Modified Single Leg Squat with a Row: Stand in a staggered stance with your weight on the front foot. Using your back foot for balance, bend forward, keeping your back flat. Straighten the front leg (but donā€™t lock your knee!) and lift the elbows high into a row at the top of the movement. Tip: Keep your back flat and your shoulder blades squeezed together during the entire movement.

Trainer Kim Lyons demonstrating a modified single leg squat while holding two dumbbells and the second part of a modified single leg squat with a row