work your core and strengthen your friendships

Luke and Jo Gray have designed a plan for Telegraph readers – The Telegraph For

Luke and Jo Gray have designed a plan for Telegraph readers - The Telegraph
Luke and Jo Gray have designed a plan for Telegraph readers – The Telegraph

For previous weeks, click here. Week Five will be published on Monday Aug 24

This week’s exercise

By Luke Gray

We have created a 6-week movement plan for midlifers and it works both for beginner and experienced exercisers. This week, we’re activating the core while getting your whole body moving.


The Turnout (10-20 reps)


Luke Gray demonstrates The Turnout
Luke Gray demonstrates The Turnout
  1. Now that many of you may be able to hold an extended plank, it’s time to try a Turnout.

  2. It is ultimately a three-point plank, taking one arm and turning the body and reaching upwards.

  3. Repeat by alternating with both arms.

  4. It is a great stretch for the chest and shoulders and middle back, whilst working the core extra hard. This exercise is perfectly achievable on hands and knees.


Elbow plank to extended plank (10-20 reps)

  1. This is a great way to combine the elbow plank with the extended plank.

  2. Start with elbows on the floor in the traditional elbow plank position, and extend the arms one at a time until you are in the extended plank position. The core must be engaged at all times.

  3. Once again, the same benefits are achieved if you are on your elbows and knees. It is still extremely demanding.


Side Lunges (10-20 reps)

Take a stride sideways that feels natural, not uncomfortable
Take a stride sideways that feels natural, not uncomfortable
  1. Stand with both feet together, then step with your right leg sideways, bending at the knee but most importantly keeping the left leg straight. Work within your capabilities: step as far as it comfortable.

  2. Return back to your original feet together position

  3. Do the same move with your left leg. Try to keep your knee and foot in alignment.


Knee lifts with pull down arms (10-20 reps)

  1. Starting with arms in the air, lift up the right knee while simultaneously pulling the arms down.

  2. When arms and knee come together, reverse the movement, so your leg returns to the ground and your arms raise again.

  3. Now do the other leg.


The lifestyle tweaks

By Jo Gray

Our social connections, in other words, our relationships with the people around us, including our neighbours, friends, loved ones and colleagues, don’t just feel comforting, they also play an important role in protecting our health.

Research has previously linked social isolation to a higher risk of heart disease, a weakened immune system, depression and cognitive decline. Loneliness has even been found to be on par with obesity and smoking when it comes to health risk.

Yet during lockdown, many of us found our social connections dwindling. We have clients who were suddenly isolating at home, often living alone, and unable to meet up with friends and family.

As lockdown eases, it’s important to re-establish those connections, but many people may be feeling anxious about getting back out there. Confidence is like a muscle, and needs to be worked on gently and gradually built back up. Don’t feel rushed back into your normal routine, but rather do it step by step at a pace you feel comfortable with.

However, if you find yourself retreating from others, it can quickly become a downward spiral. If you’re reluctant to go out, your confidence and fitness will decline and you’re more likely to feel stressed and anxious, which can lead to stress eating, where you overeat the wrong types of food. If you begin to gain weight, you’ll tire more easily and will be even less likely to want to go out and see loved ones.

Exercise is a great place to start. It’s a fantastic way to build confidence by boosting your feel good endorphins, which will increase feelings of happiness, and if you do it with a friend it will help strengthen your social connections too. Arrange a weekly walk with a friend, or a weekly coffee, even if it’s in each other’s gardens or at your local café.

As well as real life meetings, stay in touch with friends and family who may be further away via Zoom, text, or better still, regular phone calls. Make time to phone a friend at least once a week. The more often you do these things, the more your confidence will grow, and your social connections will deepen. Routine helps keep social connections in place, so schedule things in each week.

Lastly, be mindful of your TV habits. While we all love to watch our favourite programmes, studies show that in lockdown we’ve been binge-watching more TV than ever before. Watching back-to-back episodes of your favourite characters on TV is no substitute for meeting up with a friend in real life, or hearing their voice on the end of the phone.

Luke and Jo Gray are offering Telegraph readers 20pc off their online Living Eighty Twenty programme and bespoke one-on-one training. Use the discount code 20PERCENT on or quote in emails to [email protected]

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