Tuesday,23 April, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1429, (7 - 13 February 2019)
Tuesday,23 April, 2019
Issue 1429, (7 - 13 February 2019)

Ahram Weekly

Ageing gracefully

Exercises to avoid

As we age, our bodies change and start to gain weight more easily. Our fitness needs are changing too, but sometimes these changes can set back our workout plans and do more harm than we can imagine. And though exercising and working out is always a good idea to help keep your body in shape, there are several exercises that can do more harm than good once you reach the age of 40. 

Surprisingly, recent studies have discovered that exercises once considered to be an effective way to trim belly fat, get lean and fit, and look younger have been shown to cause middle-age belly fat, loss of lean toned muscle, and inflammation that causes you to age faster.

So, if you have recently hit that milestone, try to avoid incorporating the following exercises in your workout plan:


Cardio: No doubt, cardiovascular exercise is essential for any fitness plan. However, too much or too intense cardio training can actually have a negative effect on a body over age 40. Current studies prove that doing conventional cardio overtaxes your body and increases the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which causes you to gain belly fat. Studies have also found that doing long frequent cardio sessions breaks down your lean muscles and increases the production of free radicals that can accelerate ageing and lead to serious diseases. If you prefer to use a treadmill, a stationary bike, or some other cardio machine, try to get in about 20 minutes of moderate exercise daily with a heart rate of between 108 and 153 beats per minute to maximise health benefits.

Standing toe touches

Standing toe touches: As one enters middle age, the joints that connect your lower back and hips start to get weaker. And this stretching exercise may put too much pressure on the lower back. Also bending over so deeply can injure the neck and increase blood pressure. It’s recommended to try yoga poses instead that gently stretch the back without causing damage.

Hovering leg lifts

Hovering leg lifts: Generally, this exercise is a great way to get a flat stomach and reduce belly fat. Yet, people over the age of 40 should steer clear of it. It puts a major amount of stress on the lower back, which in turn can lead to major lower back strain or even worse damage.

Behind the neck press

Behind the neck press: Any exercise that involves a strain on the neck can become dangerous to your health. And this exercise puts you in an unnatural position that compresses an important neck artery. The compression of this artery can result in a neck fracture as well as other less serious side effects such as dizziness, headaches, and even fainting. It’s better if you focus more on flexibility with shoulder rolls, rotating outstretched arms, and pressing each arm across your body towards the opposite shoulder. 

Leg extensions

Leg extensions: Extending your knees to bear a heavy weight puts a lot of stress on the knee joints and even the ankles. Such strains can cause a lot of pain and can end up doing much more harm than good.

Abdominal-targeted exercises

Abdominal-targeted exercises: Doing excessive ab-targeted exercises like sit-ups, side bends and crunches will not effectively reduce belly fat. In fact, they can hurt your lower back and cause unnecessary stress on your spine. To keep off stubborn belly fat, you need to get to the source of the problem. Follow a healthy diet, eat fat-reducing foods, and incorporate the correct amount of cardio into your exercise routine.

Trunk twists

Trunk twists: It’s recommended staying away from this exercise after you turn 40. Though it seems a simple move, it actually puts a lot of strain on the lower back and neck. However, this exercise can be done safely with a proper warm-up. Don’t force your knees any further down than they comfortably go. You can also rotate your trunk in a standing trunk rotation by holding a small ball in both hands in front of you with the elbow out and then gently turning your upper half from side to side.


Squats: The position your body is in while performing squats makes the joints in the knees and ankles vulnerable to serious injuries and leaves the door wide open for several different muscles to be strained as well. And definitely avoid using weights while performing squats.

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