Staying active can help you avert many of the health problems that come with age, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to play like you always have. “The reality is that if you’re playing aggressive, competitive tennis in your 50s, 60s and 70s, you have to make some concessions,” says Dr. Raymond Rocco Monto, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. “In part that means taking time to do exercises that prevent injuries, even when you’d rather be on the court.” Here are five exercises that you can do at home that will keep you ready to hit the court as you get older. Do two to three sets of each move on nonconsecutive days three times a week.
External Rotation1. EXTERNAL ROTATION
Strengthens the rotator cuff. Tie one end of a stretchy band to a doorknob or post and stand so the doorknob is to your left. With your elbow bent 90 degrees, hold the loose end of the band in your right hand so the band is taut. Press your upper arm and elbow into your side and hold your forearm straight in front of you with your palm facing left. Keep your elbow tucked close to your side and slowly pull your forearm out to the right as far as you can. Hold for one second and slowly return to the starting position. Repeat 8–10 times. Switch sides and repeat.
Internal Rotation2. INTERNAL ROTATION
Strengthens the rotator cuff. Set up as in the previous exercise, standing to the left of the doorknob, but hold the band with your left hand so the band is taut. Bend your elbow 90 degrees and make sure your palm is facing right. Keeping your upper arm and elbow against your left side, pull the band to the right, across your abdomen. Hold for one second and return to the starting position. Repeat 8–10 times. Switch sides and repeat.
Single Leg Squat3. SINGLE-LEG SQUAT
Strengthens glutes and thighs and improves balance. Stand on your right foot with your left foot behind you so your shin is parallel with the floor (if you need to, support yourself by holding the back of a chair). Keeping your posture upright, slowly bend your right knee, lowering until your right knee is just over your toes, no farther. Stand back up. Repeat 8–10 times. Switch sides and repeat.
4. OBLIQUE CRUNCH
Strengthens the core. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor, then let your legs fall to the left so your knees rest near the floor. Gently cradle your head and neck in your hands. Curl up slowly, tightening your abdominal muscles, until you’ve lifted both shoulders a few inches off the floor. Hold for two seconds. Slowly lower to the floor and repeat 10–12 times. Switch sides and repeat.
Strengthens legs. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your weight slightly on your heels. Place your hands on your hips (or on the back of a chair for support). Tighten your abdominal muscles and step forward with your right foot. Bend both knees until your right thigh is parallel to the floor and your left thigh is perpendicular to it (go halfway if you feel discomfort). Your left heel will lift off the floor. Don’t let your right knee go past your toes. Push into your right foot and step back to the starting position. Alternate legs until you complete 8–10 repetitions on each side. Rest 30 seconds between sets.—DANA SULLIVAN
As you get older, your metabolism slows and your body requires fewer calories. But that doesn’t mean you need fewer nutrients. “You have to get the most out of your calories,” says Ruth Frechman, a Los Angeles-based dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. That means eating nutrient-rich foods. Another reason you need foods high in nutrients is that as bodies age, they absorb and process vitamins and minerals less efficiently.
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