Celebrities in their 30s, 40s and 50s have been voted the UK's ultimate fitness idols which proves the quest for fitness can start at any age. Bodybuilding Warehouse asked UK Women to choose the body parts they liked best from a range of celebs and according to the poll: Madonna has the best arms, Nicole Scherzinger has the best stomach (Should there be poll of women who have children and women who haven't had children yet?), Beyoncé has the best bum and Elle Macpherson has the best legs.
Elle Macpherson has genetics on her side but the Queen of pop, Madonna is a yoga-loving, disco dancing, karate kicking, gym hound and it shows. It's fair to say at the age of 56, she has never been fitter. She is proof that it isn't too late to get into exercise, improve your fitness and look hot. Her routines are gruelling, but even if you hate the gym, you can still get amazing results and reach your goals as long as you make them SMART:
Specific - What do you want to achieve? E.g. 'lose seven lbs.' as opposed to 'lose some weight' or 'run a 5K' instead of 'start running'.
Measurable - Depending on your goal, how will you measure your progress? For weight loss you can use scales, a tape measure or how a dress fits. If you're aiming to run a 5K, your measurement will be the increases in the distance you run over time. The goal should be measured regularly so you can track your progress. How often will depend on the goal and method of measurement; so, no standing on the scales everyday, once a week will suffice.
Achievable - Can you actually do what you have set out to do? It's important to make your goal manageable and take external factors into account; time, location, costs and scale of the goal. Any limitations and restrictions may put you off on your journey, so it's important to identify them at the beginning so you can make your goal realistic and achievable.
Relevant - What is the reason for wanting to achieve the goal? Whether you want to fit into a dress for a wedding or to take part in a charity run. It's good to give your goal a purpose and some relevance to keep you motivated.
Time - When do you want to reach this goal? Like a broken record, I use the word realistic, but things won't change overnight and setting crazy time frames will not help you get what you want. Losing a stone in two weeks can't be done without amputation or serious deprivation; instead aim for twelve weeks, which equates to just over 1lb. a week.
Before you attempt to throw yourself into a crazy schedule, it's important to start small. Don't dive in at the deep end and sign up for a high intensity interval class if you haven't broken into a sweat for year; you'll find it difficult which could lead to hating it and leave you avoiding exercise permanently. I spoke to Katie Badger at Warner Leisure Hotels who has recently launched Digital Health Workshops for over 50's who are put off by gyms. She shares the results of their pilot programme and some top tips for getting fit.
What physical activities can I add to my daily routine to help me lose weight?
"Staying fit and healthy is extremely important and research shows that as you get older, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and exercising regularly can help reduce the onset and severity of dementia. While exercising has many benefits such as losing weight, and reducing the chance of developing high blood pressure and cholesterol, our recent YouGov research revealed that eight in 10 of the over 50s are put off by out of touch gyms are using wearable tech to keep motivated.
Investing in a wearable tech band such as a Fitbit Flex Band is a good way to start assessing your exercise levels on a daily basis and find out how many calories you're burning in your morning stroll, or when you climb the stairs, for instance. Crucially though, you will be able to determine how much you need to do in order to achieve your desired fitness goal, whether that's an extra five-minute walk or cycle before you go to sleep. The government's daily recommendation for adults is 10,000 steps a day, so why don't you try one out and watch the steps clock up? During our five-week pilot scheme, our group of guests clocked up 16,000 steps more than the average, taking part in low intensity activities such as walking and dancing - we can all do it!"
What is the best exercise to start with when I've never exercised before?
"Exercise should be fun and sociable, few enjoy exercising in isolation. There are numerous substitutes of the gym to keep fit. There are plenty of low intensity and fun exercise activities to try out which keep you flexible and avoid stiffness. Activities can span from a leisurely walk with friends to fun classes such as ballroom dancing and aqua aerobics. Joining a leisure club, or finding some classes in your area are great ways to find activities tailored to your fitness ability. As part of the digital health initiative we found that nearly a quarter of participants would be encouraged to stay more active if they exercised with a friend. Keeping contact with others also helps to prevent isolation and by exercising with friends, you can spur each other on to reach your fitness goals."